The Practice of Solitude

image110214A life without a lonely place, that is, without a quiet center, becomes destructive. – Henri Nouwen

In order to walk the path that God had laid for him, in order to walk the way of the cross, Jesus needed an intimate bond with his heavenly Father. That bond formed the still and steady center of Jesus’ life, an eye in the hurricane of his ministry. That intimate bond, that still and steady center, was forged in solitude. Jesus regularly drew apart from the busyness of life to spend time alone with God.

The practice of solitude has served the same purpose in the lives of those who would follow Jesus. The goal of solitude is not merely to be alone; it is to become more fully aware of the loving presence of God. It is to develop a deeper intimacy with God. In solitude we not only give God our thoughts and feelings; God heals the woundedness of our soul as only God can do.

While we can certainly create these times and spaces for solitude, this past weekend Pastor Claire Cassell from our staff challenged us to think about those times when we are already alone: driving in the car, doing dishes, drinking a cup of morning coffee or tea, doing the laundry. Rather than turning on the television or radio, rather than reading the newspaper, Pastor Claire challenged us to give that time to God, to become more fully aware of God’s presence, to become more fully aware of how we’re feeling and for what we’re grateful and gently place them into God’s care. What a refreshing and transforming idea!

I want to challenge you to follow Jesus’ lead. If Jesus needed solitude and found it soul-nourishing, how much more do we? You might find the experience awkward at first. You might even find yourself wanting to run away from the experience and go check your Facebook page instead. Resist the temptation, and remember that there’s a reason we call it “practice”. In time you’ll not only find the practice easier; you’ll find your soul longing for it rather than resisting it. And you’ll find that even in the storms of life you can return to that still and steady center, the deep waters where our soul knows intimacy with God.

Want more inspiration? Check out this video of Ruth Haley Barton sharing her pathway to solitude. You can also find more resources on our website here.

What’s been your experience with solitude? Leave a comment so we can learn together.

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