While in New Mexico, I spent three days at Casa Del Sol at Ghost Ranch which is a spiritual retreat center near Santa Fe. This is the second personal retreat I took this year and both times, I was blessed beyond words. My first retreat was to Holden Village in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State shortly after my daughter’s surgery this past fall. That week gave me the strength to make it through one of the most difficult seasons of my life and this retreat allowed me time to rest and reflect on that season. There is something amazingly healing about solitude in the wilderness.
We are in the season of lent; a season remembering the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the enemy. These past few months, have been a season of extreme temptation for me. I have been tempted to quit, to run away, to abandon the call, to let go of the faith that once sustained me. The words of the enemy sound something like this “Nothing you do really matters.”, “Why are you sacrificing so much for people who really don’t want to change?”, “You don’t know what you are doing, you should focus on things you can be successful at.”
On my second day at Ghost Ranch I climbed the trail to Chimney Rock; a large outcropping of stone. As I climbed I reflected on what created this magnificent sculpture. The answer: centuries of harsh weather and erosion. I looked below at the mounds of soil, evidence of what is left of a once great mountain. Now all that remains is solid rock and it stands resolute testifying to something unshakable.
I realized that our spiritual journey is often much like the journey of these mountains. Pain, cruel reality, and the harshness of life can erode our faith. We have two choices; let go of what no longer is needed and cling to the rocks of our faith, or crumble and fall. I spent the next two days, reclaiming one solid rock. The rock I leaned when I went to Vacation Bible School at the age of seven; God loves me. God loves me just the way I am; whether I am a successful or not. The outcome of what I do does not really matter; only my faithfulness in following where ever I am led, even when that place makes no sense to me.
All that matters is the love God has for me and when I truly get that, then I am able to truly love God and all of God’s creation. Up on the top of the Chimney Rock, I felt fully embraced, held by the only one who can heal me and shelter me from the storms. During this difficult season, I have made many mistakes, done things I wish I could undo. As the storms raged all around me, I lashed out at those I care for and I neglected my loved ones. I have been beating myself up for the past few months because I was not strong enough, wise enough, or loving enough. Through the ravages of this season, I have been broken. I decided to follow the advice of these rocks; cling only to what is solid and let all else be washed away. God loves me. There were many beautiful rocks in New Mexico but this is the only one I choose to bring back to Richmond.