Early in the morning, while it was still completely dark, He got up, went out, and went to a lonely place to pray. (Mark 1:35)

The students of the Full-time School went to a monastery last week. It is fascinating every year to see what this does to young people. In the run-up to this special week alone, there were students who panicked at the idea that they would have to hand in their cell phones at the start of the week and be left to the silence, the peace and themselves. The special thing is that, now that the week is over, almost everyone has experienced the week as deepening and that a renewed connection with God has been created. It is true that true silence remains extremely difficult, even during the week. This mainly manifests itself in visiting each other and seeking other forms of distraction.

Uncomfortable places

Yet for most students, the desire for connection with God is greater than seeking distraction. There was a student who told me today that she realized that even more silence would bring her to a place of loneliness inside and that, strangely enough, she longed for that. Being in a monastery can help with this. Jesus needed to be in the desert, to go into the mountains and find quiet, lonely places. In the same way, it is sometimes good for us to step out of our daily worries and meet God in a different environment in uncomfortable places deep inside.

Soup dumplings

An important reason that a different place and setting sometimes makes us reach a deeper level and connection with God is that we are very sensitive to rhythm. In our Western society the rhythm is often in high gear. A rhythm of noise, hustle and bustle is a cadence that many people feel good about. However, choosing a different rhythm and therefore switching to a lower gear is often quite difficult. Your body, soul and mind initially rebel and need time to adjust. I often use the example of a large stockpot being stirred. When you stop stirring, it will take some time for the soup to stop swirling. When the swirling has stopped, the soup balls will float to the top. Perhaps what you have consciously or unconsciously always wanted to keep below the surface will come to the surface. God wants to talk to you about ‘the soup dumplings’.

To reflect

The purpose of planning a monastery week during the Full-time school year is that the students get a taste of a different rhythm during that week. In addition, it is important to incorporate the higher frequency of taking time with God into ‘normal’ daily life. It is important to periodically reflect on your rhythm of life. Fortunately, we have a choice to learn a different rhythm. Taking time with God in the morning is quite difficult for many people. It takes training to master this and to make it part of a rhythm.

What’s washing up?

You can recognize the tree by its fruit. That is a statement from Jesus that we like to use to judge others or to unmask alleged error. I think it is healthy to also use this to reflect on our rhythm of life. When you look at the surf you see the rhythm of the sea rising and retreating. Because of that rhythm, all kinds of things wash up on the beach. If the fruit of our rhythm of life is that all kinds of junk ‘washes up’, then it is good to discipline yourself to create a new rhythm. That may be a subtle adjustment to what you are doing now, but the impact is significant. Taking time for God for ten minutes in the morning can give the day a completely different color. Implementing these ten minutes often takes effort, but once you get the rhythm, the Holy Spirit has become more part of your daily life.

Encourage and inspire

Perhaps you are already very happy with your daily rhythm or you have even built a retreat or monastery visit into your annual rhythm. I’m curious how you taught yourself a daily rhythm and what such a rhythm looks like. It may also be that you long for it, but that you find it quite difficult. I would like it if you told us something about this in the comments so that we could encourage and inspire each other.

Tip: Read or listen to the book “Looking for intimacy with God”.

About Martin Dol

Getrouwd met Annemarije en vader van 3. Hoofd Onderwijs binnen Royal Mission en gek van geo-cachen.

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