Don’t Retire, ReFire: Sometimes you have to ‘go into the desert.’

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt like you’re just going through the motions?

Have you felt like you can’t find joy in your day to day life?

Have you felt unsettled about it and not sure what to do and how to pull yourself out of your funk?

I had a revelation last week as I ruminated over what to give up for Lent, which is that period of forty days before Easter. Lent is a call to renew a commitment grown dull, perhaps, by a life more marked by routine than by reflection. – Joan Chittister

This personal revelation was so powerful, that I had to share.

In the last few months, there have been several occurrences that have developed which had me asking the questions I listed above. To get to answers, probing questions like these must be asked.

This process of asking questions and searching for the answers was humbling. It had me asking the most difficult question of myself. Is the real me being seen? Am I allowing people to see the real me? If not, what am I hiding, if anything, and why?

Is it because I’m struggling with defining who I truly am and embracing and loving every part of me?

Could the answers be the reason these challenging situations are coming at me?

Have I lost my way? It sure feels like it. What happens to us that we lose our way?

So many obstacles can block the path we are called to, making us blind to its sight. We have to find our way back to the clearing.

The negativity was hurting my heart and I had to figure out how to get out of it.

Then, I thought about this time of year that we’re in, Spring, Easter and rebirth. I thought more about the forty days and forty nights, leading up to Easter and how it is marked as a time for reflection and preparation. Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy. – Pope Francis

It was at that moment that I had my revelation. I must “go into the desert”, figuratively speaking, to realign myself and focus on guarding and protecting from the distractions that could affect who I am. That means disconnecting from what is making my heart heavy. It means to still my mind and to reconnect with myself and my God. In doing so, I will reclaim and get back to knowing and loving the person that I am.

Loving myself has taken me almost my whole life to accept, because I was brought up to believe that it’s selfish to love yourself. I still have difficulty with it, as I have a caregiver mind and heart. I had to adjust the way I look at myself and love that “giver” part of me, while making sure that I also give thought, value and love to myself. It’s the latter that has taken time to welcome.

We can’t change what comes at us each day but we CAN decide how to receive what comes at us. Our decision will allow us to embrace what aligns with our values and leave at our feet what does not.

You may want to ask yourself some or all of the questions that I’m asking myself. Your answers will be different because we are all different. We are different, yet so alike. That, in and of itself, is a revelation.

We are only a few days into the forty, so I’m still in the desert, answering those questions.

I am confident that, as I make my way back from the desert and into the clearing, I will return loving who I am, with my inner power restored.

I assure you that I will do this every year, for the rest of my life. For me, it will be cleansing and renewing on the deepest level, much more than giving up something small, like candy, which, if that’s your choice, still requires discipline and control, and is commendable.

This is an exercise that anyone can do regardless of their beliefs.

I invite you to go to the desert and rediscover your wonder and the wonder of the world we live in.

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