Return to the Desert
by Carlo Carretto
If the prophets did so, and if Jesus did so, we must go out into the desert from time to time.
It is not a question of transporting oneself there physically. For many of us, that could be a luxury. Rather it implies creating a desert space in one’s own life. And to create a desert means to seek solitude, to withdraw from people and things, one of the undisputed principles of mental health.
To create a desert means learning to be self-sufficient, learning to remain undisturbed with one’s own thoughts, one’s own prayer, one’s own destiny.
It means shutting oneself up in one’s room, remaining alone in an empty church, setting up a small oratory for oneself in an attic or at the end of a passage in which to localise one’s personal contact with God, to draw breath, to recover one’s inner peace. It means occasionally devoting a whole day to prayer, it means going off into the loneliness of the mountains, or getting up alone in the night to pray.
When all is said and done, creating a desert means nothing more than obeying God. Because there is a commandment — arguably the most forgotten of all, especially by the “committed” — which requires us to interrupt our work, to put aside our daily tasks and to seek the refreshing stillness of contemplation:
“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy…..”
Do not be afraid that your momentary withdrawal will be detrimental to the community; and do not be afraid that an increase in your personal love for God will in any way diminish your love for your neighbour. On the contrary, it will enrich it.