Colorado

Solo Vacations

It only took a day for me to find out, I don’t vacation well.

I make hasty decisions. When I think back to adult decisions I have made, I have never spent more than 5 minutes before I have said yes. I know I should be a better Christian and “pray about it”, but God gives me wisdom and a gut feeling. My move to Texas, my car, and currently this vacation were rall decisions I made in less than 30 minutes. Most times, it pans out. I have now been in Texas for 5 years. I love my car. Sometimes though it doesn’t. Chicago is a struggle.

I came to Chicago for a Christian conference. Yesterday, I made it through the first general session and workshop. I walked to find something to eat. I settled in at Gino’s East for my first deep dish experience. Before my first bite of doughy, cheesy, meaty goodness, exhaustion hit me. And months of feelings and fears began to surface. Fortunately, a friend called me. I cried. I tried not to, but my tears escaped me…little bandits.

This is not my first time vacationing alone. I have been to London, Spain, Colorado, Portland, and Seattle alone. I revel in those memories. Walking the streets of London in the middle of the night. Driving haphazardly to Seattle. Prayer walking with a faithful dog named Lazarus in Divide, Colorado. This is the first time, I have been lonely while vacationing. No one should eat deep dish pizza alone. I want to experience life with a person. After lunch, I resigned to my room. In the building across from mine, people were living and moving and dancing and jumping. I lay on my bed. I didn’t go back until the next general session. I did the same today.

The only difference between yesterday and today is this. Today, I acknowledge I have run, filling my life with work and school. God will find me in my quiet resignation. I am uncomfortable being here. I am scared being here. I don’t like my withdrawal, but I can’t muster the will to engage. Luckily, God has always found people in the most random places.

Find me in the cave

Find me at the well

Find me in the river

Find me in the jail

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Poustinia

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.