A bit ago I shared a quote from Dallas Willard about the importance of solitude in the spiritual life. When I first read that quote I felt two things. First, I thought: He’s right! I desperately need more time alone! But then I thought: This infuriates me! I have NO time alone . . . so he is saying I cannot grow spiritually?
My frustration with Willard was a feeling I had when I read several other spiritual disciplines book as well. They seemed to mostly be written by men (though there were a few female authors in there); further, they were mostly written by people in a stage of life in which they actually could spend long periods of time alone.
That is NOT my life.
But I think we need to give these disciplines a “makeover” in our minds. They can be a part of our lives if we focus on the core of what they’re about and why they’re essential.
In quietness, most essentially, we still the chatter of our hearts and minds so that we are actually aiming to be still and focus on True Reality. And, even if we are not literally alone (for example, if our toddler is gnawing on our leg while we’re trying to sit and have a moment of peace), I think we can still get to the heart of the discipline of solitude: a conscious, purposeful awareness that we are not alone. That God is present. We so easily lose sight of this reality, don’t we? But he is with us, in the room. Right now he is with you as you read these words. Yup, right there with you. (And right with me as I type them!)
This realization – this realignment with Reality – is the foundation of real spiritual growth. It isn’t about you or me or our efforts to grow. It’s about a paradigm shift – a re-focusing on God, God’s presence, God’s power in our life.
God is with you. Right now. Even when you are alone, you are never alone.