“Solitude eventually offers a quiet gift of grace, a gift that comes whenever we are able to face ourselves honestly; the gift of acceptance, of compassion, for who we are, as we are. As we allow ourselves to be known in solitude, we discover that we are known by love. Beyond the pain of self-discovery there is a love that does not condemn us but calls us to itself. This love receives us as we are.” Parker Palmer
As much as solitude is about making space in our lives to be with God, what I’ve discovered in my own practices of solitude, is that it is very much about what my soul wants to say: to God and to me. Yet as yesterday’s post by Tim Stafford brought the fact we are not often willing to enter into solitude for fear of what our hearts might actually have to say.
So part of the reason we resist solitude is we have to face ourselves: the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are no noises to drown out our insecurities. We have been stripped of external distractions and we are faced with the deepest reality inside us. We feel unsafe, raw, and vulnerable. We are exposed for who we really are. There in is the struggle.
Yet in solitude when there is a willingness to stay involved with your soul you begin to realize it becomes the place where God’s Spirit is at work. It is where the Holy Spirit is stirring up your deepest questions and longings and drawing you deeper into relationship with him. It is where our souls cling to God (Psm. 63:8). It’s where we hear the still, small voice of God telling us who we really are: the Beloved. It is here we come to know and receive the love of God in a deep, personal way. Unless we do, we will not be open to the revelation that solitude brings.
The practice of solitude has offered me a way to stay attentive to my own heart, and ultimately has become the place of transformation. I’ve discovered solitude is no longer a scary, lonely and barren place, but a place of openness, receptivity and spiritual possibility…and the birth of the new self in Christ. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into this alone-with-God place and embrace the conversion that solitude offers.
“For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.” Psalm 62:5