We are in the middle of Lent.
During Lent it is as if we follow Jesus into the wilderness for forty days.
We do this in order to grow in our relationship with God.
We allow ourselves to be stretched so as to increase in our spiritual awareness.
We do this not to punish ourselves but that we might come to some new spiritual insights during this time.
Every year during Lent this new found spiritual awakening is possible as we surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit moving with us.
Lent is really a great time for a shift to happen in our faith lives.
Lent creates the space for the shift to happen so that we might deepen our connection with God and with each other.
Now this Lent has been a Lent unlike anything we have ever seen.
You might say that we are entering ever more deeply into a period of great solitude.
Lent is a time where we do take extra time for solitude and for silence.
It is a time where we take to heart that Scripture verse from the Psalms where we are called to be still in the presence of almighty God.
In the Bible to “be still” before God mean that we let go.
We relax and surrender our lives to God.
We are not God.
We are God’s people though and when we create that space in our lives for solitude and for silence we often find our spiritual lives renewed.
Now this is a challenging time.
We have to be apart from one another. We need to distance ourselves from each other.
In a way we are creating intentional space and even solitude right now.
So this ancient discipline of solitude is taking on new meaning this Lent.
How can we understand our time away from one another as “holy time,” or even as “holy solitude?”
Christians have always seen time in solitude as a tool for deepening our relationship with God.
When we are alone and with God we focus entirely on God.
But solitude can cause anxiety within us especially if it is forced upon us as this time of “social distancing” is being forced upon us by the Coronavirus.
By the grace of God, God can and will still use this time for our benefit.
God can work in the silence and the solitude to deepen our connection with God’s Son, Jesus.
Solitude can also help us to love and care for our neighbors more deeply.
The theologian, Richard Foster writes: “The fruit of solitude is increased sensitivity and compassion for others. There comes a new freedom to be with people. There is a new attentiveness to their needs, new responsiveness to their hurts.”
Time in solitude and in quiet creates a small space within us to become more Christ-like.
May you find new ways of using this time of social distancing to paradoxically draw closer to God.