Quiet Places

Our family had a wonderful mini-vacation this weekend.  We went to a state park, enjoyed the weather and nature, and most of all, enjoyed each other.  There were no computers or TV.  The only games were the board games we played with one another.  We had camp fires, cooked in a dutch oven, and looked at the stars.

There were a few times that I felt like pulling out my computer.  I didn’t have internet connectivity, but I wanted to tidy up my inbox.  The first time the thought crossed my mind, I recounted what made this particular vacation so special: it was my chance to really disconnect from the rest of my world.  After that thought, it was quite easy to resist the temptation to look at my phone to see what was going on at work or on Facebook.  In fact, it was no longer a temptation, it was a joy to remain disconnected.

Our society is driving us toward increased connectivity and multi-tasking.  I sometimes wonder about the personality dynamics this will drive in future generations.  I am an introvert.  I “recharge my batteries” by seeking a little time of isolation.  I don’t have to be isolated for long periods of time, but I don’t function well if I can’t have a little bit of alone time every day.  At work, sometimes I think I have a few minutes to myself when a new email or an instant-message pops up to remind me just how rarely I am truly alone in the state of a constantly connected technology.  In a world that is increasingly connected, where do you go to be alone?

This sounds like a new problem, but really it is not.  While we were camping, I toured an historic old house, where a couple raised 9 children in the mid 1800s.  The size of the house, by modern standards, was fairly modest.  The rooms were small and naturally there was no indoor bathroom.  At the time it was built, it was considered to be a very large house.  Most families that size would have lived in something much smaller.  Yet, I found myself looking at the house and asking myself the same question I ask today: where did anyone in that family go when they wanted to be alone?

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  — Luke 5:16

There are numerous references to Jesus dodging the crowds or his disciples in order to be alone.  I wonder if he was an introvert too?  … or maybe he just followed the wisdom that seeking solitude is sometimes necessary to hear the still, small voice of God speaking to us.

Sometimes we just have to be very intentional about it.

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