poustinia (Russian: пустынь) is a small sparsely furnished cabin or room where one goes to pray and fast alone in the presence of God. The word poustinia has its origin in the Russian word for desert (пустыня)
It was Holy Saturday, on my nightstand sat Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. I turned to the chapter titled, Solitude. Hours before, my home was filled with people and laughter and divine contemplation. How did I get here so quickly? Where do these messages come of depression and isolation and ostracization? Why don’t I feel like fighting them?
Perhaps, the shortest chapter in Foster’s book, solitude introduced me to this simple word: poustinia. I googled it; I hoped to find that I had landed on a Greek word. I didn’t. It is Russian. I did stumble upon was poustinias all over the United States. I scrolled down the results page, The Potter’s Inn at Aspen’s Ridge was one of the first hits. As I browsed, three words beamed at me, Soul Care Day.
There. There was what I needed. I needed a day, where care was given to my soul. I needed a day where I was alone with God. I needed a day where silence was the norm. I needed a day where I could mourn and be consoled by the Father. I needed a day where no man could reach me. I needed a day in the desert. The desert just happened to be the mountains of Divide, Colorado. What happened there could be explained in a million paragraphs; I will only write one.
Upon arrival, I sat still next to a blazing fireplace. I began reading John’s account of Christ’s last discourse with His disciples before He was crucified. What could I do, but weep. His words were to me. He spoke them to me. He spoke them over me. I read the same 5 chapter over and over again. Each time with increasing conviction of God’s Presence with me. We gathered for group meditation. There, we read a passage, I have become too familiar with. The humanity of the story captivated me. Finally, my day culminated with a prayer walk. I journeyed two miles with twelve stops. With each and every stop, God handling me with great encouragement, care, rebuke, discipline, and grace.
Why write about this 3 months later? Because, solitude is this. Solitude is creating an inner silence in oneself where at anytime you can hear the sweet whisper or the violent thunderclap of the voice of God. The beauty of this solitude is that it can be done in the presence of the multitude or alone. As, God draws me back in to solitude, I feel myself backing out. However, this time there is no sorrow or isolation, but only the pleasant expectation to hear His Voice and be with the Holy One.
Click this link for some photos of my time in Colorado.