At the beginning of Lent, I was convinced the best way for me to feel close to God was in silent, contemplative solitude.
I still feel that way…to a degree. Over the course of the last two and a half weeks, however, I have also come to realize how crucial other forms of prayer and interaction are to making my time alone worthwhile.
Yesterday I made my first visit to a food pantry run by Catholics in my neighborhood. Though I have done some volunteering since the end of my time with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), this felt new.
I am sure some guilt drove me to get up and work at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, but the desire ran deeper. On some level, I had begun to feel disconnected from others and, in turn, the divine. Sure, I spend time with people all day at work and with friends on nights and weekends. But since leaving JVC, faith-based community has not really been part of my life. I generally do not go home after mass to reflect on the Gospel with my fellow attendees, whereas I had done this while living in Peru.
Volunteering this weekend was not a particularly eye-opening experience, but it was an enjoyable one. It brought me into contact with people gathered for a common purpose of faith-driven action. Furthermore, a few of the volunteers invited me to their home for lunch and a Bible study on the Book of Luke. Again, this rendezvous brought no flashy epiphanies, but it felt good to eat, read and pray with others.
Just as a beautiful spring means so much more when preceded by a dreary winter, I think our prayer lives need balance for each individual aspect to have meaning. While it is vastly important that I take the time to retreat and commune with God on my own, I also will not have much to commune about if I don’t venture out into the world to exchange in prayer, faith and community with others.