“Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude, we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self...Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter...”
Henri Nouwen (The Way of the Heart, p.13)
When was the last time you intentionally spent time in solitude? It is the place where we make the big decisions that guide our lives, yet we so seldom claim time alone with ourselves. Only in solitude are we likely to acknowledge our deepest loves and our darkest demons. Only in the quiet of our own hearts do we admit to being powerless over all circumstances outside ourselves. When we are caught up in the roar of social pressures and cultural expectations, we cannot separate ourselves out from the noise all around us. Even Jesus spent forty days in the solitude of the desert to gain an understanding of his future path.
I have been watching the summer Olympic games on television. I'm struck by the way the athletes come out of the locker rooms covered from head to toe, wearing headphones, and keeping an interior gaze. They are attempting, against all odds, to avoid being caught up in the wild energy of the crowd, the torrent of expectations, the grandiosity of the stage upon which they compete. They are trying to stay with themselves, with their own thoughts, with the words that keep them calm and reassure them that even in the midst of all this, they still belong to themselves. They claim their solitude in the only way they can.
Today, claim some solitude for yourself. Take time alone to check in with your own heart and soul. How are things going there? What do they need to stay healthy?
In the Spirit,