I am speaking at the OCF West Coast College Conference. I spoke on solitude being the first step to community. I ended the talk with asking all 55 college kids to head outside for 15 minutes of solitude.
In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Jesus practiced the discipline of solitude. Jesus’ ministry springs from that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn.
In the center of breathless activities we hear:
- restful breathing
- quiet stillness
In solitude we get rid of the scaffolding: no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no texting, twittering, facebooking, no meetings, no music to entertain, no books to distract. Solitude is just you before the Lord; vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken before the one who can heal, restore, refresh, unburden, grant vision.
We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone. When Fr. Henri Nouwen asked Mother Teresa of Calcutta about how to live as a priest. She told Nouwen, “spend an hour a day in solitude with the Lord and to never do anything you know is wrong and you will be all right.”
Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when He called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called—the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together p. 82