In our modern world, unless we enter a monastery, it is difficult to go into the desert for a lifetime. At least physically! I truly believe that when I enter my periods of meditation, I am spiritually entering the desert to pray, meditate, and enrich my life with the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding me. Although I live with my wife, we are in a crowded community of elderly people, all loving and kind people.
Even though we are surrounded by others, I am in solitude when in the presence of God. My thoughts may be crowded, but I do clear my mind for prayer. Spiritual separation is not possible until I can experience internal separation. Internal separation is only possible when giving myself solely to God in prayer. There is no other way. . . at least for me.
I was born in a big city in New Jersey in the 1940s. I lived the first twelve years of my life in the hustle and bustle of city life. My family then moved to suburban Summit, New Jersey. In this suburban town, I was immersed in the societal drive to financial success. It did not happen. I am not un-happy about this fact. After chasing the brass ring, I turned to a life of teaching and did this for the last twenty-four years of my work life. This was a blessing from God, and it was what my life was supposed to be.
As a teacher, my life did not slow down; I devoted my life to my students, whether I taught in high school or college. My prayer time was limited to Sunday mornings and blessings before meals. . . or so I thought! When I did finally settle down to prayer and meditation, wrapping myself in the Love of God, I realized that my life of teaching was indeed a life of prayer. God led me into teaching and blessed me with the patience to nurture each as an individual.
Amma Syncletica, desert amma (mother) from the third century allows those of us not living in the seclusion of the desert to be authentic solitaries. God has blessed me to be a solitary because my life of meditation brings me into a closer relationship with God and the Love I am invited to share.
© Russell Kendall Carter