I’ve written before about how we are created for community. We are not meant to live in isolation. However, we do often find ourselves craving solitude – at least we did in the days before COVID forced us all into prolonged isolation/hibernation against our wills. So what is it about solitude that we desire? You don’t see animals leaving their herd or flock or school or gaggle or whatever to go off by themselves, thinking they are like Henry David Thoreau going off alone to write Walden. Of course, for animals it is a matter of life and death. Lions stay with their pride, elephants, zebras, gazelles, and so on travel and live with their group for their own safety and survival.
Not so with us humans. Created for community, we still seek solace in solitude from time to time. Sometimes, however, solitude is hard to find. Where to go to be alone? The mountains or the beach comes to mind, but if I don’t live close to either, that isn’t going to work for me. Being outdoors anywhere with nature is a good place to seek solitude. Unfortunately, lots of people feel this way, so public parks, like Central Park in New York, are often full of people.
Where do I go to seek solitude? My prayer closet. Now this is metaphorical, rather than literal. Although for some people it is both, they really do have prayer closets. (like in the movie War Room) Jesus instructed His disciples saying,
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6)
Jesus sought solitude when He wanted to pray. Mark 1:35 tells us,
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”
Why would I desire solitude? For rest? For renewal? So that I can “hear myself think” as we so often say? All of the above and more are true. My Heavenly Father often calls me away, so that I can hear His voice though, not my own. In fact, in Psalm 46:10 He says to me,
“Be still, and know that I am God;”
Solitude allows me to be still. In solitude, there are no competing voices, (save my own) therefore I can more easily hear from God. My Heavenly Father leads me to places of solitude.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3)
That’s something solitude does, restores. David, who wrote those words of the twenty-third Psalm, knew that time alone with God was like resting in green pastures, beside quiet waters. There, he could be still and spend time with His Creator.
Maybe solitude isn’t so much a place as it is a person? When I seek solitude, I find it in the presence of my Heavenly Father.
“For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.” (Psalm 61:3-4)
In the shelter of Your wings, God, I find solitude and I find solace.
sincerely, Grace Day