Square one

In his excellent text The Spirit of the Disciplines (which I highly recommend), Dallas Willard writes this about the Christian discipline of solitude: “Solitude is generally the most fundamental at the beginning of the spiritual life, and it must be returned to again and again as that life develops. . . . Just try fasting, prayer, service, giving, or even celebration without the preparation accomplished in withdrawal, and you will soon be thrown into despair by your efforts, very likely abandoning your attempt altogether.”

Willard is definitely onto something here. When we attempt to live out the spiritual life without having those key times of quiet, of reflection, of just be-ing with God, we run out of gas pretty quickly.

For some those times are lengthy and rich. For others, those moments alone are quick, spur-of-the-moment, and frequently interrupted by tattle-tales or flying sippy cups. But whatever they look like—and even if they’re short—those times are essential.

What do you think? Do you agree with Willard? Why or why not?

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5 responses to “Square one

  1. Christ-centered yoga has become my time of meaningful solitude. During my practice, I’m physically and spiritually still, and I listen to (rather than talk to) the Lord. It has become a powerful component of spiritual discipline as I seek a deeper walk with Christ.

  2. Great, blog, Kelli! Thanks for sharing.

    I DO agree with Willard and, similarly, was just reading some Blaise Pascal, where he talks about how we rarely live in the present — always in the past or the future. He says, “The fact is that the present usually hurts. We thrust it out of sight because it distresses us …” Solitude is hard; it’s scary to be alone with our thoughts (or, even more so, with God’s thoughts!).

  3. Kelli,
    Just found you through the Kyria blog.

    Yes, I agree with Willard, although sometimes I just can’t seem to force the noise in my head (and all around me!) to be quiet.

  4. This is something that I have been craving more and more over the last 18 months. Life just seemed to get noisy and cluttered and I needed the solitude and quiet mind to feel not crazy. For me this time has had to come before everybody wakes up. I have found that if I do not get it I am not as patient and kind as I want to be. The quiet moments with God keep me much more focused on him.

  5. Kelli-
    I’ve TRIED to find solitude this week, just 5 minutes like you suggested- but I haven’t yet! I’m trying to get up an hour earlier than the kids, but I can’t consistently do it, so I have to read my bible and pray during nap time. But I don’t think this qualifies as “solitude”. Honestly, this winter has already been tougher on me emotionally than any one in recent memory- lack of sleep, “tattle tales and flying sippy cups” (I like that!), and feeling completely overwhelmed. I walked outside and listened to the quiet for roughly 5 seconds tonight, before I heard, “MOMMY!” from inside the house…sigh…

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