Recharging the batteries: Desert Day!

Every first Sunday of the month, we have a desert day in our community: a day of silence, solitary prayer and reflection. I see it as my day to recharge! It’s the day where I recharge my spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological batteries in God’s presence. It is a day spent in silence. Our Rule of Life reminds us: “we appreciate silence as a precious gift which prepares the way for an authentic relationship with God and among ourselves. In recollection, we draw the strength of clarification, of purification and consecration on what is essential” (Rule of Life, 66)
Therefore, it becomes the opportunity to look back over the past month and see where the Lord has worked on me, challenged me, moulded me. I see where I have fought with Him, resisted Him, doubted Him, most importantly I see how I have loved Him and how He has and continues to love me, despite my flaws and weaknesses. I reorientate my gaze, my emotions, and my thoughts. I look through the baggage which I might have accumulated over the month, sort through it and walk the pilgrim way once more, renewed in conviction and free from unnecessary burdens.

This Sunday’s Gospel is very challenging. Jesus presents himself as the True Vine. In the first ten verses of Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel, the word ‘remain’, translated often as ‘abide’ appears 11 times. That’s a lot of remaining! However, to remain in a place, first we have to be in that place. Remaining in Jesus’ love means working to make sure we are in His love. The reality is, often, we are not in that space. We don’t understand unconditional love so we operate out of our own human and myopic love. We need to be pruned, re-grafted back onto a life source which pumps lymph into our veins and allows us to live solely for Jesus.

We all need to take time out to recharge our minds and hearts and see where we are in life. That’s why I love desert days! How many of us have tried out our best Olympic sprints to grab a mobile phone charger or our laptop battery when we’ve been chatting to friends and suddenly the horrible beeping noise warns us that the phone or laptop is about to die!? There is no power. Sometimes we let our spiritual life and energy get to that point too. Yes, our lives can be so busy (even for semi-contemplative sisters!) and sometimes it’s only when we get start running low that we realize it’s time to stop and recharge. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel: “Cut off from me, you can do nothing!” If we are not attached to Him, we will not have life and cannot share life with others.

So how do you keep spiritually charged? The list is different for all of us. It’s not taking a desert day of silence and retreat for everyone. It might be prayer whilst traveling, praying with a group, meditating on your own on the Gospel of each day, being with like minded spiritual friends. It might be listening to inspiring speakers or the Bible, or singing praise and worship songs at the top of your lungs in the car. One of the most beautiful and effective recharging moments is staying in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, to simply gaze upon God and let Him gaze upon you, knowing that He became the Bread of Life, just for you. Whatever works for you, schedule a recharge moment at least once a month, together with all the mini-moments which we live each day. So, we become real disciples, no longer running away from our delusions and walking the Road to Emmaus, but disciples-apostles who have recognized the need for Lord, crying out for him: “Stay with us, Lord”. Just as He asks us to remain with and in Him, He will remain in and with us if we cling to Him, the Fruitful Vine. This is the Promise!