Simply put, solitude is time or place alone. You set a time and place and go to be alone.
My favorite places to hang out, are all places of solitude.
- I love to ride my Motorcycle along a winding road
- I love to sit on rocks by the ocean
- Last month, I took my camp chair to the White Mountains.
- Sometimes I go to the Vermont Prayer-closet
- to an old bookstore or out-of-town library
- places I can be away, alone with my Father.
- streams in the desert.
- islands of rest and peace in the midst of a river of activity, of hustle and bustle.
- At home, my favorite physical place is my “tent of meeting” set up out back in the woods just beyond our second field.
- my cave (my private room) when it’s too hot for going outside to my screen tent
But there is a place where I go that surpasses all of these for being quiet and alone with God. I go to the green pasture and quiet waters that he leads me beside. I go in my capacity to envision His special place. I sit there under the cool of a shade tree with Jesus.
As I grow in Christ, I find I need solitude more and more. My heart longs for simpler times. Quiet places. It is from these quiet places and simpler times, these moments away with Him that my public ministry springs.
“Solitude is the antidote to the disease of dissolution & dissipation.” It is returning to the Lord from the busy world. It is rest for the soul. It’s a position of trust. It says, “Lord, I recognize that because I trust you for everything . . . The things that I think are so important can wait while I take this time with you. I can step away from my busyness to be with you and know that my world will not fall apart. It’s a place where everything slows down for me.”
In Thomas Kinkade’s book, Simpler Times, he calls us to slow down, to simplify, to get off the fast-track and to just go out into nature and spend several hours sitting there and knowing God.
In a sidebar he quotes Garrison Keillor:
“Stones and trees speak slowly and may take a week to get out a single sentence, and there are few men, unfortunately, with the patience to wait for an oak to finish a thought.”
V. Raymond Edman, President of Wheaton College in the early 1950’s said:
‘a pattern of solitude’ – makes for strength of soul
“In the testing of every great heart there seems to come of necessity a testing time of solitude.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author of A Gift from the Sea, described solitude and its benefits in this way:
It is not physical solitude that actually separates one from others; not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others. How often in a large city, shaking hands with my friends, I have felt the wilderness stretching between us. Both of us were wandering in arid wastes, having lost the springs that nourished us — or having found them dry. Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.
If we truly follow Jesus, He leads us beside quiet waters. He has invited us to go to him and exchange our concerns, weights, and loads (stresses) for his light and easy solution–dependence upon him for all our concerns.
Why not take time today to find that time and place alone. Then invite Jesus to be the center of it. And see what that does for the balance of your day.
QUESTION: Do you practice the spiritual discipline of “solitude”? How and where?
©2009, David C Alves