Carl Sandburg figured out that we have not cultivated the habit of solitude because we are afraid of being alone: “Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Lincoln never saw a movie, heard a radio, or looked at a T.V. They had ‘loneliness’ and knew what to do with it. They were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would mark.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer sensed a certain value of solitude when he wrote, “It is as though in solitude the soul develops senses which we hardly know in everyday life.” Even Superman has his “Fortress of Solitude.”
In 1987 psychiatrist Martin G. Groder was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying that “Americans harbor a deathly fear of being alone.” Groder offered the following questions to help determine when we might need some time to ourselves:
--When was the last time you had a clear view of who you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it?
--When was the last time you were fully relaxed?
--Do you fantasize about moving to a rural area, getting in your car and driving cross-country or asking the phone company to issue you an unlisted number?
Many of us already live in rural areas, but we still understand that the idea behind Groder’s last statement was that of escaping to a place where no one knows where we are and nothing bothers us anymore.
But that’s not the kind of solitude that really helps anyone, not even ourselves. It is important to understand that there is a vast difference between being lonely and being alone. It is also important to distinguish between being alone with God in solitude, and merely being alone. The man or woman of God thrives on the times when he or she can be alone with God, just being still and quiet before Him.
Walter Savage Landor wrote, “A solitude is the audience-chamber of God.” What that means is that being alone with Him is the time and place where we can get Him to listen to us, and where we listen to Him. Spend some time alone–in solitude–with Him, and see what a difference it can make.
–Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com