While we each respond to solitude in unique ways, life circumstances greatly impact our perception of that experience. As one who presently wears a number of hats (e.g. husband, father, son, minister, presbytery committee moderator, doctoral student, home owner, dog owner, neighbor, and friend), I experience solitude as a rare gift that is deeply restorative. However, this was not always the case. In my single years, I remember often feeling lonely and longing for companionship. And even now, after days of study leave spent at a distance from my family, extended periods of solitude remain deeply unpleasant for me.
There is a reason why solitary confinement is a punishment in prison, and why Covid lockdowns were so painful. People are hard-wired for relationships. Loss of connection has a negative impact on us. As a minister, I often pray for those who have lost spouses who once served as their daily companions in life’s journey. The recently widowed regularly tell me that they frequently converse with their spouse, even though that loved one is no longer present. Doing so brings them great comfort. I understand why.
This Lent, I pray that you will feel both the restoration and discomfort of your solitude and ask God what you may be learning in the midst of it.
Please pray with me: Dear God, we admit that we have an uneasy relationship with silence. We long for distractions that will lead us away from extended introspection. When we turn inward, we don’t always like what we see. Remind us of the need for solitude and prayer, for confession and forgiveness. This Lent, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Yours in Christ,