The Hermit Within
Along with an obsessive musician, writer,
And my very active inner child,
I harbor a confirmed, guilty hermit within.
When I look at a week with no responsibilities,
The musician and writer both get excited at the prospect of full reign.
But the hermit rejoices. She doesn’t have to be in charge, or even interact.
For much of my life, I have battled the need to indulge in blessed quiet, aloneness,
Thinking everything I do needs to benefit or bless someone in the end.
So piano playing and writing certain things meant for public expression were acceptable.
But going for a walk in the park, reading fiction, writing fiction, looking at the clouds, parties,
Even long hours of meditation, self-help books, and the purely emotional spiritual experience,
Seemed selfish; a cherished self-indulgence for the guilty hermit.
Practical things about the house to ease the family’s living together,
Those things of life that must be done,
Were accomplished with thoroughness of one proving I could achieve a good home.
And so it went, stolen hours from preparation to minister or share gifts,
Guiltily enjoyed by the hermit, and despised by the practical person,
Insisting time alone had to have practical implications.
And strange things begin to happen.
I became impatient with my life, unable to truly enjoy much.
Finding no enjoyment with the fellowship of the very people I wanted to love.
I forgot how to relax
Napping my only time of escape, the only time of shutting down,
And I became chronically weary.
And God sent us to serve a lovely, rural area church.
Where walks in woods and down dusty roads called simply because they were there.
And full-time employment was not available.
I walked down the dusty road, allowing it was a good time to pray – for others.
I had time to practice music I would never play in public, allowing it improved my technique.
And I suppose it was true enough.
And with the collapse of a publishing company interested in my novel,
I mourned deeply, but found an odd release from am obsession that had taken over my life.
And I began writing fiction for the fun of writing fiction.
The hermit was delighted.
But the practical, dedicated Christian worried, and I’m afraid I wasted opportunity.
And it wasn’t until years later I began to understand.
The indulgence in beauty, the walks in God’s creations, the enjoyment of emotional worship,
Music for music’s sake, writing for the joy of writing, exercise for the body, self-help for emotions
All keep me charged, renew my emotional and spiritual energy, just as napping does my body.
The greatest surprise was discovering Christian service for the sake of Christian service.
Christian service no longer centered on results came into my life.
And that was not possible before, as weariness eventually always overtook joy.
Life took on a new rhythm.
So, now I indulge my hermit, although not yet totally without guilt.
But I do understand something more about her.
With that part of me satisfied, I more often serve with spontaneity.
Spreading joy and grace to people around me in ways not seen before,
I find a new joy when I see results, but not despair when I don’t.
The hermit, the obsessive musician, writer, and child
Are parts of me and round out who I am.
The struggle is in the balance, and that I’ve finally given to God.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (New International Version, ©2010)