Friday, 27 June 2008

Seeking Solitude

Being by yourself is interesting isn't it? I've always avoided being alone by being part of a great big busy family, having friends at church, friends at uni... but now i find myself, in one sense, very much alone. The only people i see day to day are a bunch of scientists, all much older than me and with interests limited to their work or maybe football. Great. I don't like football, I can't talk about X-ray diffraction at their level, so I'm kind of stumped here. Other than that, i see my landlord. And thats it. So in one sense, I'm very much by myself. In terms of actually finding some other people to talk to, i'm going to a really awesome church this sunday, so maybe God will provide some new company :-) But at the moment, it's just me and Him.

And I think this experience is one which will stick with me- in fact, I will make sure to carve out some time for solitude when I am back among friends, because I recognise the value of it now. Being alone is not usually a choice. But solitude is different than loneliness. Solitude is sought- the choice to be alone with my thoughts and with God. This goes way beyond carving out twenty minutes for a quiet time in the morning- that twenty minutes does not end up being quiet, or solitary enough to allow proper release into God. And that is the key thing i have seen- that the time alone with God is not to be clearly structured or defined or ordered, though these things become necessary when the time is limited. Simply seeking out the presence of God, resting in that presence, and releasing everything i am thinking about, worried about, proud about, all up to him. This Practising the presence of God, as recommended by Brother Andrew (read the book) is really something to live by, something to live out, every day and in every form of company. It shows itself in the conversations we choose when we are with friends, in the activities we pursue when among christians and non christians alike, but importantly, it shows itself in the subject of our meditation when we are alone. Meditating on the Word and in the Person of God is something we should do as readily and as eagerly as breathing.

The other practise that is conducive to healthy christian living is, of course, fellowship. But i have never been short of fellowship in my christian walk. There have always been people around me encouraging me, and that is a very valuable thing. But relating to God and being comfortable alone with Him; that is something i have not really spent much time practising. Solitude was Jesus' main priority at many times during his ministry, and it was and is a necessary counterpart to the very relational majority of his life. Being alone used to hold a sort of fear for me, and i avoided it. But Solitude is something different, and something valuable. Something I will not run from now I know that I am never truly alone.

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