I’m still meditating on Nancy’s question, how can I dedicate my whole self to God?, and some of the responses I’ve received. A couple moms wrote in and talked about the desire to be more contemplative in the midst of a very active life … and the desire sometimes to want to retreat from it all and head for the woods!

As an active religious sister, I can appreciate how that feels — and I’m wondering if contemplative nuns (the sisters who are monastic and/or cloistered) ever feel this way too. Even though my life is vowed to God and everything I do is through the lens of my love for and relationship with Jesus, and my mission and life as an IHM Sister, there are often times when I just need to step away from everything into solitude, into the wilderness of the woods. For me it’s a desire to tap into my spirit and be with God alone without any words, images, sights or sounds. That space might happen on a street corner in downtown Chicago for a split second (remember Thomas Merton’s experience in Louisville at the corner of 4th and Walnut?) or it might happen while I am alone and still in the darkness of a dense forest.

Such experiences of contemplation are not really things we can “make happen” ourselves but are true gifts from God. The saints (again, my dear friend Saint Teresa of Avila) write that we can dispose ourselves to be more open to receive this gift, but ultimately it comes from God, when and how and where God wills.

What are some ways that you find a contemplative space in your hectic day/week/month?

With all of our important responsibilities — raising children, making a living, ministering to others — how do we respond to that God-given longing for solitude?