Solitude makes space
It seems that life has an almost constant pull on us that gravitates us towards becoming human-doings instead of human-beings. There is always something to do, something that beckons our attention, some list that stays tucked in our already crowded heads flashing away like a silent yet intrusive siren. It’s been a subtle shift over recent decades and we’ve agreed to it without a great deal of conscious thought – it’s just the ways things are now, we’re all caught up in it, it’s become our normal. We counter the invitation with excuses – there’s no time for “just” sitting still, I have work, home, children, chores, people who need me.
And yet… I don’t think it’s what we’re made for. Something deeper in us yearns to stop, to take even a moment to be still and come to rest in mind, heart and body. Something inside doesn’t want to maintain this pace and asks to step off the relentless hamster wheel. So why are we so resistant to listening to that voice beyond the noise that seeks rest and quietness? Do we stop long enough to give it attention and then ask why it causes us so much discomfort? Why do we counter the invitation with excuses – there’s no time for “just” sitting still, I have work, home, children, chores, people who need me. There will always be a reason to say no to a practice of solitude and it will always appear valid.
Richard Rohr seems to get to the heart of our resistance…
…moving into solitude and silence is both a gift and a burden. Once we have overcome the external pressure to perform, we are left with our own interiority. The trouble—and the opportunity—in solitude is that there is no one around to blame for our moods and our difficulties. We are stuck with ourselves.
And perhaps he’s right. We avoid stillness and solitude because it confronts us not only with ourselves but also our disappointments, our losses and our failures. But if we sit with it long enough, make a habit out of it, we will also discover that within the vast, wide open spaces of our hearts we will make new discoveries. We will hear a voice inviting us to a new way of being, we may hear the voice of desire awaken new hope and possibility, we may discover in the solitude of being that there are seeds pushing up within us that seek light and growth. And who knows, that may lead to a whole new garden of life, colour and beauty emerging that we didn’t even know was possible.