've just started with this blog to start sharing reflections on contemporary people's increasing need for solitude. It is not so much a form of simply being alone from the sometimes imposing and constricting presence of other people, be they be friends or foe, but something much deeper than a simple sense of wanting to be a alone. The solitude of which Bethel speaks is not an escape, but a response to a singular call to be with someone--God. The solitude that Christian tradition speaks of is precisely this, that God lovingly calls us to be with him, to be alone with him.
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while" (Mk. 6: 30-31a).
The practice of spending moments of prayer and silence has been part of the tradition in the Church since her very beginning. From the time when Jesus welcomed back his disciples after sending them on a mission; to the time when St. Anthony of Egypt (c. 251- 356 AD) received the divine call to go to the desert, initiating the hermitic tradition in Christianity; to the formation of monasteries and secluded convents (c. 6th century); up to the present generation, solitude has been the backbone of the spiritual legacy of the Church. The Old Testament narrates of countless instances of “going to the desert” to pray and encounter Yahweh. But the singular model for us remains the solitary figure of Jesus who goes “to the mountain to pray, spending the night in communion with God” (Lk. 6: 12).
To enter into solitude is not a thing that we make when we are already tired and we wish only to rest and be left alone. To enter into solitude is to respond to a call of God who loves us and wants to be with us: “I will lead her into the wilderness: and I will speak to her heart” (Hosea 2: 14).