a place for rest and grief

desertcabinthe day i came home from getting laid off, i knew i needed to get away by myself at some point. but i had also assumed i would “lay low” for the first month or so. and this last few weeks sure hasn’t felt like “laying low”.

so, this morning, i’m heading out to the desert. for those not familiar with san diego, we’re bounded by mountains to the east. and on the eastern side of those is a vast and dry desert, stretching to arizona. it only take about an hour from where i live to get over the mountains and into the desert.

there is a lovely older couple in my church who have a cabin in a fairly remote canyon out there. it’s been in their family since the husband was a little boy. i spent a few days out there on one of my silent retreats a few years ago, and have been wanting to return ever since. many of the pastors at my church head out there monthly for a silent 24 hours (the owners are wonderfully generous with their place).

i’m not just doing 24 hours, or even 3 days. i’m going for 6 days. no cell phone signal, no internet. and the most profound silence i think i’ve ever “heard” (or, would that be “not heard”?). i am not a person who has a natural connection with my emotions, though i’ve grown a lot in this area in the past 6 years. so i need to be intentional about creating space for the grief i feel is bubbling just below the surface. i’m bringing a handful of books, and some homework assignments from a therapist friend. i’m only taking my laptop because i want to do some journaling, and it’s easier for me to type than write long hand.

in the old ysmarko blog days, when i would leave town like this, i would load up a full schedule of posts, set to go live each day. but that’s not the whyismarko way. since i’m going to be silent in the desert, i figure this blog might as well be silent also. :)

14 thoughts on “a place for rest and grief”

  1. It seems to me that much of the stuff in YM 3.0 is dead on. I’d been reaching some of the same conclusions, and last fall i couldn’t take it anymore. My church really wants nothing more than ski trips and bowling, and the kids i’d worked with for 15 years are now grown and churchless. When i pushed, i got pushed out. And i was a volunteer. So anyway, I wonder if you might consider starting a NEW organization or business that tries to train youth workers in the new way. It will surely be small at first and might be a hobby, but at the risk of being melodramatic, i think the future of the church is at stake, not to mention the souls of our kids. Just something to think about in the desert.

  2. will be praying for you. if i can encourage you at all, when you get to something that touches you deeply begin to write w/ long hand. there are places in our mind/emotions that reconnect when we write instead of type. somehow the physical act rewires places that are long ago forgotten. when i was encouraged to do this by my therapist i didn’t believe her. i do now. when i got to really deep grief she encouraged me to write with my off hand – i did so – and it was one of the most frustrating, cathartic practices i ever did. it was a letter to my dead mom. something in that scrawl reverted me to my most basic self, that inner child – and i would have never made those connection with keys on a laptop. good onya for taking this time.

  3. Just BE, without trying to get any certain thing out of it, just BE.
    I feel in BEing we are reminded that God is God and we dont have to be.

    I pray that you find peace, the peace that can only come from God.

    Much Love, Grace, and Peace

  4. I couldn’t agree more. The blog silence will be a great reminder for us to pray for you, too. Enjoy, and may God speak in the silence – words of hope, encouragement, healing, and maybe even direction.

  5. Hey marko,
    I’ve been thinking about you and your situation. I was uterly shocked when a fellow youth pastor told me what was going on. I know you will find strength and directon on this jorney. I am was in a similar situation to long ago and now am starting anew in a new ministry. I am starting from scratch which is scary but I keep tellig myself that God brought me to this place for a reason and I have to trust in that. Be strong in the lord and he wil do great things. God bless you for all that you have done and will do in your new future. God Bless

  6. Hey man, I’ve given up my job too. S’posed to be going on retreat in December, but a wilderness in the UK is not quite the same as a wilderness in SoCal.

    Keep the faith.


    P.S. Going to a private gig to hear Corinne’s new album tonight…

  7. Hey, there’s a picture of you and yoru family in the Virginia Baptist Paper for this month. The article is on your media “fast”. How’d you get connected with them? (I’m in VA near DC)

  8. Mark,

    I found your blog site via Ed’s blog; clicked on it because I was interested in the the title of your post (a place for rest and grief). I’m a therapist, so my radar always goes out for anything with those two words. Anyway, I was compelled to respond when I read that you’d been laid off; I have listened to a couple of your sermons at JCC so kind of know your persona and words via sermons. Blessings to you. I hope the time in solitude was wonderful and that your “homework” proved fruitful.

  9. Welcome back! I only heard about your job loss yesterday – I feel very out of the loop. I wondered why you weren’t coming to Vancouver. I have mssed your blog – especialy the book reviews – and pray God you will hear God’s voice and follow over the next few months.

  10. I’ve been through this and you’re right to identify that there are things under the surface. The set of differences is unique (to some extent anyway) for everyone. Your pie chart as regards this issue will look much different in 6 days, 6 months, 6 years.

    One thing I’ve learned: Be absolutely un-edited in the way you talk to God about this. Anger, fear, relief, fear, promise, fear. Don’t do any theological blinking when you read David’s Psalms (i.e. that-was-then-this-is-now dispensational whatever). This was exactly what he was doing. (Check 55. D was wicked pissed and went straight to God with it.)

    Ongoing confession that we are wrong without Christ is more to the point I think that reciting the bad things we’ve done. The latter is a servant of the former.

    The hardest thing to grab onto when crap happens is the reality that you’re ok even when circumstances scream that you’re not.

    God reigns. Have a great time in desert. I have, even though I didn’t always (ok, usually) know it at the time. As a good friend of mine says, the best is yet to come.

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