"Solitude means withdrawal from an artificial and fictional level of being which men, divided by original sin, have fabricated in order to keep peace with concupiscence and death."
Thomas Merton wrote that just before I was born. Here, all these years later, as we come to the end of the Christmas season, I have found myself living a life of solitude for that very reason, to die to the old self. It's not that I am isolated, living holed up as the neighborhood curmudgeon. If anything, I am as busy and as actively involved with other people as much as if not more so than I was in my life in media. It is just that I have created more time for prayer, am doing the hard work of true repentance, find myself abandoning "stuff," and moving closer to being the loving individual God created me to be. This Christmas season has been a quiet, reflective one for us. It has been one where we have moved out of the "artificial and fictional level of being" and into one of solitude.
None of this would have been possible without what we celebrate today. He who baptizes with the Spirit allows us not only to be forgiven our sins, but to also start the journey to live beyond and without our sin. "Repent," says the Baptist.
"Convert" is another way of saying it, or "change." But we are unable to do any of that without the grace of God, without being baptized by the Spirit. This day means a lot to us. This season means a lot to us. "Repent" means a lot to us, and Christ means everything to us.