Solitude and Loneliness

As we think about what it means to live into 'Deep calls to Deep', it's worth thinking about one of the key spiritual disciplines - solitude. If we don't make any time to be still with God, we can't possibly be in a position to know the experience of the Spirit's presence - underneath all the tumult of the world. We won't hear God's deep call out to our deep.

Solitude is subtly different from just being alone. Just being alone suits some and not others. But regardless of whether alone time leads to contentment or loneliness, it is not the same as time spend intentionally in stillness with God. In fact, if you're prone to loneliness, you may in fact run far away from solitude even while spending vast amounts of time on your own. Your fear of facing loneliness will drive you to cover every waking moment with some kind of distraction - tasks, the phone, the tv etc... The moments when you have nothing to do, you dread and flee from.

Jesus spent a vast amount of time alone during his 40 days in the wilderness. At the beginning of his ministry he sought out time to be on his own. He 'got up very early in the morning, when it was still dark, left the house and went off to a solitary place' (Mark 1:35). But this alone time wasn't lonely time, it was time with his heavenly Father.

Even if you dread loneliness, and the covid isolation makes that a real problem for many of our community, can I encourage you to nevertheless seek solitude. Spend some of your alone time, not alone, but silent and still in the presence of your heavenly Father.

For those of us with busy lives and households, the call to solitude is even more urgent. We cannot easily find it - but then, neither could Jesus - he had to get up while it was still dark and more or less flee from the disciples and the crowds to seek it out. But he knew that this time was absolutely vital for him.