You know the place! A place that helps you feel a sense of comfort, identity, inspiration… whatever you need at that moment!  A place where you are nourished and grow.

Let’s explore why such places are important in each of our lives.

Our need for special places.

No matter who we are, we have needs!

Images of our needs

I grew up in an era when people spoke of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We used the static image of a pyramid. The broad base was safety and security….without which we could not survive. Building on this, we then climbed a pyramid of the human needs for love, belonging, and ultimately self-esteem, and actualization.

The apex of the pyramid was self-actualization, becoming your own person, the best possible you.

An updated version of Maslow shifts from a pyramid to a sailboat.

 Safety, connection, and self form the hull. We then hoist our sail consisting of exploration, love, and purpose.

The sail is what allows us to grow and propels us forward to become the best person we can be.

(It might be helpful to spend time with the image connected with this post.)

As we sail the seas of our life, we find ourselves in many different kinds of waters. We need to recognize and honor those needs. We look for places and spaces where we can nourish those needs.

Sometimes we need a special private place where we can sort things out. Other times we need to draw strength from special relationships.

 Jesus’ need for special places

We believe that Jesus was fully human as well as the Word of God.

As I think about it, it becomes clear that even Jesus needed to find his special spaces.

“He withdrew to a quiet place.”

Sometimes, it was a desert. Other times a garden. I imagine yet other times when it was the solitude of traveling from one place to another, such as literally crossing a sea without his disciples.  

Wherever it was, he could draw strength from the special relationship with the God whose Word he was.

It might also be, paradoxically, when he was encountering others… celebrating with others, breaking bread with them, washing their feet… being the Word of God, revealing what God’s love looked like in word and deed.

The needs of followers of St. Vincent DePaul

St. Vincent made it crystal clear, even if it has not always been practiced by his followers. We need to be contemplative people in our “private” lives.

But we all need to be active apostles abroad, we who spread the good news by the “sweat of our brows and the work of our hands.”

Isn’t this what Jesus did?

I think of Blessed Rosalie Rendu.  Speaking in the context of one of the worst slums in the Paris of 200 years ago, she said “Never have I prayed so well as in the streets among the poor.”

 She saw and served the wounded Christ in each of the persons in the hovels of the wretched Mouftard district of Paris. She prayed when she worked, and she nourished her work in prayer.

Today, Vincentians number more than four million people serving the marginalized and forgotten in over 160 branches in over 160 countries. Today, we see ourselves as the “Vincentian Family”  – Vincentians, Daughters of Charity, members of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul, etc. The “rule” of each organization urges us to find God in all of the places in our lives, public and private.

Our needs today

  • What needs calls for my special attention today… safety, connection, self-esteem, exploration, love, service, purpose?
  • How can I balance that with the other needs I have?

Click below for an early audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk