I had a blast this week because NC Companion Rod Cosgrove traveled the 300 miles to “my side” of the Cascade mountains from his home in Spokane, WA to stay with us. He was on an annual study break from his post as senior pastor of a church, and we devised a plan for him to spend some of that time with us. I had hoped to have my poustinia ready for him to utilize, but I just couldn’t get it ready in time, so while Brenda and I went about our mostly normal work schedules, Rod was able to get study done in our home or in a local coffee shop. We were able to spend evenings and mornings together, praying the offices, eating, laughing and catching up on news, plumbing the depths of esoteric theological conundrums (we talked about work a lot).
This morning, as I say Morning Prayer by myself again for the first time in 4 days, I find a bittersweet sensation associated with it. The solitary nature of this way stands out in sharp relief. I really miss having Rod here, bringing a different rhythm, cadence and tone to my prayers (literally and metaphorically). It’s was such a gift to have another point of view on what was being revealed through the offices, to have a sounding board and a sympathetic ear. Moments of confession that would otherwise be a silent exchange between The Lord and myself took on a new weightiness simply because there was a human companion to share them.
But that sweetness IS a sweetness (in part) because it contrasts with the solitary experience. Cake eaten for every meal quickly ceases to be a treat and instead becomes poison. The wisdom of living a rhythm, of moving with the ebb and flow has been driven home to me once again.
Each of us has a default condition when it comes to our interactions, much of it circumstantial and depending very little on our personal preference or long term intentions.
Some of us find ourselves feeling spent at the end of a day because of the sheer volume of personal interaction. Work, family composition, geography, all circumstances that establish a life of high personal interaction by default. Objects in motion tend to remain “in motion” until acted upon by an outside force: The Rule for life. In this case, seeking out and intentionally establishing periods of “ebb” are where the effort must lie. It is not easy (see CDP Vol. 1 Day 1 Meditation) but living the Rule provides a way.
On the other hand, those same circumstances can manifest a sort of opposite condition: long periods of solitary work and return to a home with little or no interaction with others. In this case the the impetus upon the pilgrim is to seek out “another”; to recognize that objects “at rest” tend to remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force…and that outside force is again the Rule; the call to community.
…all that to say: It was great to have my friend and Companion Rod here with me. I wish he could have stayed longer, and I miss him this morning. Yet, in that “missing” lies the promise that my time alone in prayer until we can meet again contains just as much blessing.