“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I find I’m becoming more introverted as I get older. Friends and family, who know me well, will tell you that I am an extrovert to a power of ten. I love people. But more and more, I feel I need to love people quietly. More and more, I feel I need to draw into my own small circle with those I love most and just be together.
I long for a time when I can visit long and deep with a good friend, maybe two. I long to meet with some of the wonderful men and women that modern technology has brought into my life. But so few. So very few. It seems, sadly, that the only place I can visit with those people is in a very bright, very loud café, constantly interrupted. I want to focus on the heart of my companion, to talk about meaningful things, to laugh together, or to sit in silent contemplation, joining hearts and hands, making memories that sustain us both.
I want to be far from the hubbub that is current society. It’s all too loud, too angry, too brash, too rude. I feel wounded and I need to make sense of it all. Here. In solitude.
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” – Albert Camus
But I leave the door open to kind-hearted friends and acquaintances who want to come to call – through this space and in real life.
He remembers His promise of mercy, the promise He made to Abraham and his children forever.
And unlovable, and so very broken. God sends His word to speak to your aching heart:
Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance
or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent. For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O LORD and lover of souls,
for your imperishable spirit is in all things!
Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little,
warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing,
that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD! – Wisdom 11:22-12:2 (NAB)
His name is Love and Mercy and Goodness. He calls us all to Himself, chastises justly but with gentleness. He tenderly enfolds us in His embrace and admonishes us to do better, to try harder, to never give up. When we fall down in the mess we have made, we must get back up, dust ourselves off, clean up that mess, and try again. And again. Every single day for as many days as we are granted.
Each one of us was loved into existence by Love Himself. We are precious and worthy. We are cherished beyond reason, and above measure. In all our ugliness and failings as well as in our triumphs and joys.
How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days – John Burroughs
How wonderful it would be if we could all grow old as beautifully as the leaves do. They seem to foretell the glory of eternity.
We have all known an elderly person that seems to radiate joy and peace, as though they were robed in rich silks and wearing a crown. Would that we all strive to become like them as the seasons of our own lives change.
This is the Joseph Tree. Several years ago, we came to this place. It was up for sale by lottery and the USDA was hosting an open house. As we walked back from the upper field and woodland, we stopped and prayed that if it was God’s will, He would make it ours. We returned several days later with our children and buried a statue of St. Joseph among the roots. We were not the fortunate winners, so we carried on looking at other farms. That search took us all over the state and as far away as Kentucky.
But our hearts were always here.
After a few more years of feeling like we had been wandering in the desert, we discovered that this farm might be available again. We prayed for peace about making an inquiry. It was a long, long process but eventually – and on my 40th birthday – we signed the closing paperwork. His timing was perfect.
One day, there will be a beautiful statue of St. Joseph here – above ground – evidence of his faithful prayers on our behalf, and of our gratitude for his tender care. As difficult as these five years have been, we are filled with gratitude every morning at the enormous gift of this place; and humbled by the responsibility of stewarding for the rest of our lives.
“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.” ― George Eliot
This quote from George Eliot just about perfectly sums up what I am about. And I was looking in the wrong place. Right here where God planted us, right here with these precious people… that is where I find what is good, and beautiful, and true. Love, kindness, peace. Beauty in the things of creation, beauty in the things that we create. It is good.