hiding to reset

Over the New Year period, having said goodbye to two sets of wonderful guests, we spent a few days in the mountains near to Granada. It’s a favourite haunt of ours, a restored farmhouse on the edge of a tiny village with magnificent mountains views, snow-capped at this time of year. We try to escape there every few months, simply to get away from the busyness of life and to press the reset button.

Probably one of the best things about this mountain getaway is the very limited access to the Internet! Unless your idea of fun is standing in the cold on the edge of a tiny balcony and waiting for an elusive signal, then it’s easier to disconnect entirely. I have realised that there is something so renewing for me to switch off from the constant round of emails and social media exchanges, the mental awareness that what I am doing right now could be presented to others as a story, or a post, or a photo update, the subconscious wondering about how my life would be perceived by others.

When we come home from our mini-retreat, this is one of the things that hits me hardest. Once more, I become aware of the world beyond my physical location and I am conscious of which of my friends is doing what. But more than that, I have the feeling that my life is on view and being measured somehow as successful, or productive, or fulfilling. Don’t get me wrong, I engage in social media by choice and there are many benefits of being able to connect with people all over the world. For me and my family it has become a way to keep our link churches and supporters updated, as well as an effective way to present ministry-related training. 

I guess as an Enneagram type 3 called to a contemplative journey, it’s just that I’m aware of the tension between the communication-driven storyteller in me, and the reflective soul that seeks space, silence and solitude.

hiding to renew

During the last couple of days since returning from the mountains and before our next guests arrive, I find myself trying to hold onto that restful place of inner and outer quiet. Blessed with an expansive view from my bedroom window, I have been taking more time with my coffee in the mornings, enjoying extended moments to read and journal that the term-time schedule cuts short. 

This morning’s reading took me to Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter 3. And suddenly I found myself surprised by a phrase I must have read hundreds of times before: “Your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Perhaps it was my desire to stay sequestered a little longer from the world of nagging responsibilities, complex relationships and relentless decision-making that drew my attention to this word ‘hidden.’ All of a sudden, I wondered at what it meant. Had I ever really considered what Paul is driving at? What could he possibly have intended to say by this word hidden?

While I am no Greek scholar, one can find out anything on the Internet. And yes, I recognise the irony of this sentiment, given everything I wrote before. I sat in bed, eyeing Greek letters on my phone and ultimately comparing what I found with our hardback copy of Vine’s dictionary of bible words. If this sounds rather nerdy, in the end there was nothing very difficult to decipher: this particular Greek word (κέκρυπται or kekryptai for those that care) occurs only here in the whole of the New Testament and means pretty much what you would expect. To be hidden is to be concealed, covered, secreted away.

Oh, how my soul longs for this kind of place to retreat. Away from a world where everything is made known, everything is on display, everything is a story to publish or a status update to share. Could it be that it is possible for my life to be hidden in a way that is healthy, life-giving? How might we live with the connectedness of our digital age and yet cultivate places of hiddenness to which we retreat, places where the deep wells of our existence are concealed?

hiding to relate

What part of your life do you experience as hidden in Christ? Where do you go to find this secluded place where your peace is undisturbed, where you are reminded of ultimate truth, where restful darkness can replace the distraction of a million lights that call your attention? What times in your day or your week can you set aside to burrow into this hidden place? What practices help you to enter into the safety of concealment?

If you find yourself thirsty, as I do, for this kind of hiding place, perhaps you would join me in considering some rhythms for the coming year. Can you set aside some time to be alone with Jesus each day, perhaps on a morning walk? Maybe a weekly practice of Sabbath would offer the opportunity to disconnect and enjoy your metaphorical hiding place? Personally, I am looking forward to some half-day retreats when I can hide away and cultivate the unseen parts of me that so need connection with the One who draws me into the safe covering of his life and love.

May your year be marked by these secret moments of reset, renewal and relationship!