Solitude (class notes, week 2)

Readings for Exploration

“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.” A. Gilbert Sertillanges

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” Pablo Picasso

“We seldom read of God’s appearing by Himself or His angels or to any of His prophets or saints in a throng but frequently when they are alone.” Richard Baxter

Susan Cane’s book Quiet “ . . . focuses on introverts, making the case that they have a kind of intellectual advantage. And their edge stems largely from greater amounts of solitude, from the degree to which they’ve swapped motion for stillness, chatter for calm. They’ve carved out space for reflection that’s sustained and deep. This isn’t necessarily a matter of being unplugged, of ditching the hyper-connectedness of our digital lives. It’s a matter of ditching and silencing the crowd.”

“Fellowship with Christ is a table only for two–set in the wilderness. Inwardness is not a gaudy party, but the meeting of lovers in the lonely desert of the human heart. There, where all life and fellowship can hold no more than two, we sit together and he speaks as much as we, and even when both of us say nothing there is our welded oneness. And suddenly we see we cannot be complete until his perfect presence joins with ours.” Calvin Miller (writing about Psalm 23)

Questions to Explore

*Are you comfortable with solitude? Share from you life to illustrate your answer.

*Are you interested in increasing the solitude in your life? What could be some benefits of doing that?

*What hindrances hinder you from finding time alone?

*What might practicing solitude look life for you if you chose this discipline?

For Further Consideration

Maybe you’re a mom, and you can’t even get time to yourself in the bathroom. Maybe you’re surrounded by people fifty or more hours a week. Maybe solitude isn’t the best practice for you to choose during this phase of your life. If that’s the case, what can you learn from tonight’s conversation?

Maybe you can’t bear to be alone. What might that say about you? What small step(s) could you begin to take to change that?

Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings (background for this conversation)
January 8, 11, 17, 31; February 13; March 27

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If you’re interested in participating in this discussion, which as of now is on Tuesday at 7:30pm EST, please contact me @ wm_britton@mac.com.