These are interesting days. For some of us who live alone, solitude is something we may be more familiar with than others. And yet even being alone, we find distractions to true solitude. As we are in this season of Lent even now, we remember that Jesus began His ministry with forty days in solitude. These were formative days for Jesus, as solitude can be for us as well. It gives God’s Spirit time and space to do some deep work with us. We need solitude to unmask our false self and open a space for God to reveal things to us we might not be able to see amidst our normal connections or preoccupations. In solitude we can embrace our true identity with Christ- we are His beloved. Solitude can be both a precious and sweet time with the Lord and it can also be a struggle, especially when we are seeking the Lord and don’t feel or sense He is with us. These times of testing, what some have called ‘dark nights’, are known to saints of old and most of us too! Solitude can be found even in the midst of other people. Set yourself a part: In another room, on a walk, for an hour or a day or a weekend.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “We are afraid of silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves, in order not to have to look at ourselves in the mirror.” How might this be true of you today?
Spiritual Practice: Solitude, leaving people behind and entering into time alone with God
Scriptures: I Kings 19:11; Lamentations 3:28; Mark 1:35
Practice Includes: Giving God space and time that doesn’t compete with social media, other people, noise or stimulation; Taking a retreat; Observing sabbath refreshment from constant interaction with others or information and or activities; Addressing your need to be seen or heard- FOMA; Communing with God alone- even while taking a jog or a walk by yourself; taking a retreat or practicing other disciplines alone…such as study or journaling or the examen.
Some potential fruits of this practice: Freedom…from needing to constantly live life in reference to others and from being constantly occupied or stimulated; quieting the internal noise to better be with and hear God; doing as Jesus did and letting the Lord speak and be available to listen and yield to the formative work God longs to do in you; the joy of hanging out with God!
A few questions to ponder about the practice: How, when and why do you resist or even avoid being alone? What are your greatest distractions when you seek solitude? What are ways you best hear God when you are alone or in solitude? What sense do you have of God when you are alone? Why do you think Jesus made stepping aside in solitude part of His regular spiritual practice?