Daily Riches: The Life of Silence and the “Secret Vice” of Solitude (Antonin-Gilbert Sertillanges and Ann Morrow Lindberg)

“Retirement is the laboratory of the spirit; interior solitude and silence are its two wings. All great works were prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night.” Antonin-Gilbert Sertillanges

“As far as the search for silence and solitude is concerned, we live in a negative atmosphere, as invisible, as all pervasive and as enervating as high humidity in an August afternoon. The world does not understand today, in either man or woman, the need to be alone. How inexplicable it seems! Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets aside time for a business appointment, a trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement, or a shopping expedition, that time will be accepted as inviolable. But if one says, ‘I cannot come because it is my hour to be alone’, one is considered rude, egotistical, or strange. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices solitude – like a secret vice.”   Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“After [Jesus] had dismissed them,
he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.
Later that night, he was there alone …”
Matthew 14:23

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you experienced the kind of loneliness and silence that is the preparation for “all great works?” Is there any sense in which your life is a “life of silence?”
  • Do you understand the “need to be alone?” Do you practice solitude? If so, do you have to hide it from others like a “secret vice?”
  • It’s a “commentary on our civilization” that making time to be alone to care for yourself and seek out God should be considered “rude, egotistical or strange.” Are you determined to decide for yourself and leave the crowd behind if necessary?

Abba, teach me to nourish my spirit in the laboratory of the spirit which is solitude.


For More: Gift From the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindberg


Thomas Merton expresses my heart for Daily Riches: “If I dare, in these few words, to ask you some direct and personal questions, it is because I address them as much to myself as to you. It is because I am still able to hope that a civil exchange of ideas can take place between two persons — that we have not yet reached the stage where we are all hermetically sealed, each one in the collective arrogance and despair of his own herd.” I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. (Psalm 90:14) . I appreciate your interest! – Bill

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