A Lonely Place is A Deep Breath

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.

The sentence reads like a deep breath. I thought about this verse yesterday while Christmas shopping with my mother-in-law. I wondered about what would happen if I stood up on a bench and shouted, “Who needs a little peace and quiet? Let’s see a show of hands.” We fill our lives with action and then we suffer because we lack a lonely place to act from.

Jesus was healing crowds of people, casting out demons, traveling and preaching everywhere to everyone. In the midst of all this action Jesus began and ended his days in lonely places for solitude, stillness and silence. Often he would spend the entire night gathering strength from the deep well of time with the Father without

In the lonely place Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not His own. Henri Nouwen

I can do nothing by myself…my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me. John 5:30

The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself: it is the father, living in me, who is doing this work. John 14:10

We need a lonely place in our lives. How can we get it?



Filed under Contemplative Prayer, Orthodox Christianity, Regarding the Present Moment, Uncategorized

6 responses to “A Lonely Place is A Deep Breath

  1. Anxious Anglican

    A great question, Father, especially when one’s spouse is not a church-goer and there are three teenagers in the house. I am grateful for time for quiet reflection and silent prayer provided by the 48-minute train ride to the office each day.

  2. Joan Litman

    A great question, a clarifying question. We need this
    lonely (restless) place to hear and continually return to our Lord.

  3. Fr. James Coles

    Thank you William and Joan for the comments. Joan, I think that the place is restful but we are restless. A friend of mine went on a two day solo hike in the Grand Canyon a couple of weeks ago. I knew what he was going to say before he said it. He said that the first night was great but that he was very tempted to hike out before spending another night. Solitude is a difficult discipline.

    • Devon Coles

      Schopenhauer wrote that it was only in solitude where man was free to be himself; if a person couldn’t love solitude, they couldn’t love freedom.
      I can imagine Jesus the man seeking solitude; allowing the matters of small men to fall away from him, shedding the clamour of a needful – and frightened – flock, and coming at last to that space of freedom in which to think purely and without reservation in the spiritual.
      Okay, sin or not? I’m feeling just a little covetous of that deep a breath.

  4. This is one of your best posts. It gets to the heart of the matter.

    How can we get it? Easy! Become holy. The holy always seek out lonely places, and have quietness within them. I guess until that happens for us, we must pursue holiness.

    A brick for the TV is a good start.

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