An Alternate Reality: From Doing to Being

Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:46b-55; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

“…Go, do all that is in your heart…” 2 Samuel 7:3

“…I will give you rest…” 2 Samuel 7:11

After 51 years of intense and often overwhelming striving – 45 in the paid workforce and six as an unpaid but very busy and highly responsible worker at home – I retired last month, as in stepped away, clocked out, retreated.

What happened next seemed inevitable. Having withdrawn from the frenetic hustle, I moved to the desert (literally). I, like other reclusive types before me, have simplified, downshifted, and consciously relinquished much that gave my life meaning before. I sold my businesses, seriously pared through material possessions, said goodbye to family and friends, and re-located to a different state.

Here I now am doing “all that is in [my] heart.”  At first this was mainly recovering – lots of sleep, changes in diet and exercise routines, daily immersion in nature, much reflection amid the incredible quiet. I’ve been aided in my solitude by the covid shelter-in-place mandate. I have received much needed rest. Many has been the day when, at the end of it, I realize I’ve not spoken to or interacted with another person all day. Am I lonely in this extreme seclusion? No. I feel as if I’m on the receiving end of a reward long-earned and long-deferred. I revel in my isolation and am feeling divinely ministered to and understood.  As other verses in 1 Samuel assert: For the Lord is a God who knows what  you have done… and …He will protect his faithful ones.

In my current minimalistic experience, I am finding great peace. All the heretofore life motivating “shoulds” have fallen away. Desert creatures are my brethren. Sensory experiences no longer involve words and images on screens; now they center around appreciation of sunrises, starry skies, sunsets, and good books.

As you reflect during Advent, I offer to you my recent observation that as the externals of my life have drained away, the internal gifts have bubbled up. It took deliberate and mindful action to effect this massive life change, but, now that it has come, I am truly full of thanksgiving and praise for this God-provided time of rest to do all that is in my heart. I wish it for you as well, or whatever the desires of your heart may be. Blessings to all of you!

Offered by Jill Fredrickson, desert traveler bound for Bethlehem.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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