My wife and I recently managed to snatch a few days away. It was a much needed break for both of us. I managed to book a few nights at the cottage we spent our honeymoon in in 2003. It was an amazing experience for me.
The last year’s events have been draining for both of us. Her illness and my having to deal with the changes in our lives have had an exhausting effect on us, and we needed to recharge. I managed to book the time off, and was able to contact the owners of Boggomsrus, the cottage in Boggoms Bay we honeymooned at.
I love little wooden cottages by the ocean. They give me a sense of God’s presence in a way that only that environment or being alone in the mountains does. We visit a small private nature reserve called Jongensgat, just outside Stillbaai when we can. At that cottage there is no cell-phone reception or TV. Boggomsrus is a bit different in that there is a TV, but the village was almost totally deserted – we saw precisely 1 other person there the whole week.
After we got home, my wife went up to Namibia without me to visit her grandmother. I spent the week she was away caught up in my own thoughts. I don’t generally do well alone these days. My sleep pattern went to pieces and didn’t manage to get back on track until she came back a week later.
The time alone gave me a chance to sit and listen to God in a way I don’t get to do very often. I realised how important it is to really take time to stop and listen. It started while we were away. One afternoon while she was sleeping I sat out on the deck, watching the sun set and listening to the ocean quietly breaking on the beach below us. It was quite cathartic. After the sun set, the stars began to come out. In the evening the sky was totally clear and the entire Milky Way was visible in a way I never saw in the Northern Hemisphere. It was incredible – like all creation was singing praises to it’s creator. I could understand why the ancient people were drawn into worshipping the creation, but more importantly I felt like I had an insight into Jesus’s motives for seeking solitude when He went to pray.
The Chinese say the sound of the wind in bamboo is like the whisper of God’s voice. I get the concept. I could feel His presence and join in the praises being sung by creation. The sound of the ocean, the sparkle of the galaxy. I understand what Jesus said when He told the Pharisees that if the people stopped worshipping the rocks would worship. It makes sense. Alone we get to experience the wonder of God’s own creation singing to Him. We can quiet our heart and listen to Him sing back.
Alone time is an essential tool. We have the opportunity when we’re alone to wait on Him in a way we can’t during the bustle of normal life. Jesus withdrew from the crowds to spend time alone with His Father. If He needed to, then we need to as well.