I had written a post about our word of the year back in late February or early March that never made it to the pages of OHH. In it I mentioned how I thought we would each make our own personal spiritual retreats, along with slowing down, simplifying and saying “no” to new commitments. All this in an effort to escape the noise and business that is our lives, so that we might hear what God is truly asking us to do- besides the obvious. I remember as we shared these thoughts at the start of the year with friends and family, and a common response was, “Let me know how that works out for you.” Well, many of you already know the answer to that.
One of the reasons that blog entry from March never got posted was because we were in the process of discerning whether or not to apply for Diaconate Formation for the Diocese of Des Moines. The story about how that all came about is a blog post for another day. As many of you know, we have applied, been accepted, and are now in what is called the “Aspirancy phase” of formation. For the next eight months we continue to discern while receiving formal instruction on the call to be a Deacon for the Church. At the end of this phase we will decide, as will the Bishop, if we officially become candidates. The entire process is a little over four years if we are to reach ordination.
So, where and how does solitude work into all that? Well, as you can imagine, Mrs. OHH and I have spent quite a bit of time in prayer this last year asking God if this journey; if this commitment is really what he wants for our family. The answer has been a pretty resounding, “Yes.” Whether it continues to be over the course of the next several months, and potentially years remains to be seen. For now we have girded our loins and will attempt to travel lightly. Literally. The formation process includes one weekend a month at Conception Abby in Missouri.
While solitude is good for prayer, it is clear now that is not all God was calling us to with this word for the year. Solitude can be a negative in the form of isolation and loneliness. I wrote this in that unpublished blog post:
I along with many others have a tendency to hide from the world when we are feeling less than holy. I know that when I’m feeling like a burnt out bulb in a dark world I will deploy operation shutdown. Prayer is a necessity for times such as this, but sometimes what we need is a good dose of spiritual Vitamin D. Sometimes we need to come out of our shell and let others be the light for us. To allow them to reflect His light upon us. We are blessed with a wealth of family and friends who we can and will do this. All we have to do is call. The fact is that we are never alone. God is always with us. He created us for companionship- with Him and with one another.
As we embark on this journey through formation it is clear how much we are going to need to draw on our friends and family. We have already been overjoyed with the words of encouragement and prayers of support through this initial process. Many of you have already volunteered your time and your homes to care for our children while we are away. So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. That is something many of you are going to hear many times over.