Why would any woman in her right mind, desire, or need,  rent a cabin alone in the middle of the summer for two weeks, a cabin that overlooks the river and sits on a cliff, a place that ensures either loneliness or alone-ness, why would her desire be so great? “She is tired”, “she is overworked”, “she helps so many” some had speculated before I left.  The reality is, the desire to be alone with God, the call to be alone with God cannot be understood in practical or logical terms, because it is neither. 

Having time with God in this sparse cabin with a view was an overdue call. There were signs and symptoms God was calling me in the months before I left ranging from a deep longing to reflect on what is God’s call for me now, irritability, exhaustion, a cold heart, and sadness to name a few. It is not a “right mind”, but a right soul, a right heart that leads one to go alone, away from beloved husband, daughter, home, mother and dog.

I knew with certainty the call was right when I left the interstate and drove along the two lane road that leads here.  A peace washed over me.  Nothing like the peace that comes after 2-3 days of being on vacation, no, this peace was like coming home, not like going away. This sense of peace never left me during this time away; it endured effortlessly.

So why would God call us to leave home in order to come “home?” The words “the Lord works in mysterious ways” comes to mind as I make my way through life and, in particular, as I planned for this time away.  The phrase is overused and said a lot to explain things that make absolutely no sense, but it contains a world of truth.  God does work in mysterious and wonderful ways – if we pay attention.  One of those ways I believe is calling us into the mystery of being with Him in the ways we can actually be with Him, even if they are not necessarily the way we would chose ourselves. The home where I live is wonderful, but it is not a neutral space. Home is filled with the familiar and with distractions. 

Much like the cell of a monk, this sparse cabin meets basic human needs without much to distract my soul. A table, hard chairs, no sofa, a mushy bed, cinder block walls, and plenty of flies; definitely designed to keep you outside. Yet what you come to know is that there is no “out” once you are “in”, once you make this commitment to fully follow God’s desire for you, you are His.

Why not go to a sacred place, such as a monastery? Good question. What I knew from prayer about this time away with God is that I was called to cook for myself, take care of myself, to have an experience of prayer, rest, reading, writing, nature and a non-religious community in God’s rhythm.  Walking with God to the porch, the beach, the Laundromat, and the Dollar stores (yes, there are two) were part of His plan for me.  Staying in union with God is the intentional part of this time away. Allowing God to lead me in the sacred, the profane, the mundane, and the beautiful are equal elements of this journey. Nothing to be judged as better or worse, but every experience to be held as God’s gift and mystery.

I try to be a faithful pray-er.  I believe that God wants us close all the time, that God loves us all the time, and God is ready to guide us all the time.  Our job is to be faithful to the One who loves us deeply.  St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila have called God a lover, likening this relationship to a spousal one, but this doesn’t describe it for me. There is no human relationship that can be named for what God wants of us and what he is willing to give us in return when we answer His call; it is that which cannot be named.  Our greatest fears and desires will and should wrestle with this name and this relationship for all eternity.