Last Sunday, the Table at CPC launched a new series about Lent centered around the spiritual disciplines. We learned about solitude, its presence and purpose in our lives, and the importance of developing the practice. As an extrovert, that idea is painful to me. I want to be with people, I want to feel connected, I want the noise around me to make me feel included. Brad challenged us to make room for solitude this week, and to be honest, I thought about it…and thought that was enough. I’d already decided to give up radio on my morning commute for Lent. That’s enough solitude carved into my day, right?
Then Tuesday happened.
It was a great day on campus, a day of prayer and fasting, ending with a special event in which all the students, staff, faculty, and local parents gathered for a time of worship, seeking guidance, and communion. We broke the fast together afterwards. It was a beautiful time.
I was supposed to leave work and head down to be with a dear friend and her family for the evening, but the steady rain was beginning to freeze and it looked like driving would quickly be dangerous. I decided to just go home; Jon was out of town.
After a soaking, cold walk across campus to my car, and a slow, silent drive home, I got home and beelined for a bath; I was in pajamas by 7pm. I sat on the couch under blankets, a lavender candle glowing nearby, and journaled my thoughts from the day. I thought about how this was solitude: the warm quiet at the end of the day, the peace that grew slowly.
In reflecting on my night of solitude, I’ve discovered that slowness is a key element. It’s doing things consciously, on purpose, lacking the hurry that is usually so characteristic of how I spend my days.
Silence is another key part of this solitude business. I won’t lie, the morning commutes feel longer without the sound of the KS95 morning show. I’ve caught myself reaching for my radio multiple times. Silence is uncomfortable to me. I think part of growing up is identifying what causes the good kind of discomfort (for me, it’s working out consistently, addressing conflict in healthy ways, and being alone in silence) and then forcing yourself to do it anyways, because you know it’s good for you.
Have you practiced solitude before? What did it look like, and what did you learn from it?