I'd been avoiding this for days, weeks, months now. The more I put it off, the harder it became until eventually I'd stolen precious minutes to make it happen.
I wanted to want this, but ultimately guilt had driven me here. I wanted to be giddy with expectation, but really it was the nerves that were shaking me. I wanted to be hungry and thirsty for more, but honestly I was just exhausted.
Sat on the bed, I pull out my bible. Hunch my shoulders low and close my eyes tight. Prepare to release.
I have everything to say and yet nothing trickles out. I can normally talk for England so why was nothing happening now? The silence wraps itself dizzyingly around me and the more I desperately try and reach out for something to say, the more it constricts my every failing word. I try to relax. I wiggle my toes, shake my head and resume my previous posture. Take two.
'Dear Lord. Hi.'
The additional word was definitely heading more for a tangent than the intended path. Alas, I was not to be stopped.
'Sorry I haven't been around for while. Things have been a bit busy. You see I've been- well, you know about that.'
I babble on for a bit, not making much sense, but that's no change from usual and at least I'm saying something. Noise is better than silence. Right? Then it begins to dawn on me. I'm addressing someone who knows me so ridiculously intimately and yet I still feel as if we are only slightly more acquainted than strangers. I know all about Him. But I don't know him. Not like I know my friends or my parents or the people on my course or even the people that serve me dinner in the dining hall.
At this point I'm silenced. Do I cry? Do I scream? Do I laugh? Do I sing? Nothing seems quite right.
Here is the maker of the universe and I'm giving him the summary of a story he already knows. I'm making up excuses for circumstances he knows all about. I'm acting as if we wasn't there all along. Every second.
He never left.
All that that time I spent thinking I should probably make my way back to him - the great prodigal return - yet the truth is, he was always there. He's no stranger to me. He's everything I've felt and touched and breathed and moved and lived and loved. He wasn't absent from those moments of joy, he made them. He wasn't oblivious to the hurts and the wounds, he felt them. He wasn't unaware of the sins and shame, he paid the price for them.
He's not the one I'm meeting for a chat. The one I've scheduled into my diary. The one I feel obliged to make an effort with. He's the very skin on my bones. The beat in my heart. The thoughts in my mind. The life in every cell of me.
I am only me because of Him. The closer I am to Him, the closer I am to me.
And so once again The Quiet Place begins to become my refuge. That place where it's just me and Him. Where I admit where it aches, hand over my dreams, commit others and listen attentively to what he has to say.
For every sin in the noisy places, there will be rebuke and forgiveness in The Quiet Place.
For every wound in the noisy places, there will be healing in The Quiet Place.
For every chaos in the noisy places, there will be peace in The Quiet Place.
For every sorrow in the noisy places, there will be joy and strength in the Quiet place.
For every adventure in the noisy places, there will be training in The Quiet Place.
That place is precious and beautiful and irreplaceable.
Now what else would I possibly rather be doing?