The Importance of Solitude
Just about every day of the week I wake up at 5AM, shuffle downstairs, make myself some coffee and begin my day.
Typically, I'll have about an hour and a half of complete peace and quiet before the busy-ness of the day begins. There have been plenty of disciplines in my life that I've let ebb and flow, but I've held on to my early morning quiet time for dear life.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen to me if I didn't have that time to read, pray, write and reflect in solitude every morning. I'm thinking it wouldn't be good.
Some years ago, during a visit to Israel, I had the chance to visit a site high above the Sea of Galilee--a site many believe to be where Jesus often retreated in solitude when he needed some time alone to pray and recharge.
In Greek, the name of the place is Eremos Topos or Solitary Place.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus seems to move back and forth between the bustle and mass of humanity found in the villages and cities where he ministered to the quiet and solitude of wilderness and out of the way places.
It's almost as though Jesus knows that he is about to lose his perspective of love, peace, and bottomless grace in the midst of constantly being confronted with the endless need of those in the city.
It's at that moment that he retreats to space where he is forced to be alone and semi-helpless, save for the power of prayer and reconnection with the Spirit.
Theologian Walter Wink calls this move from attachment to detachment a "Third Way," the difference between fight and flight.
You see, it's difficult to remain in the middle this tension between the demands of life, the needs of others and the world and our own need for a moment to think, pray and simple "be," before we act.
But to not take this time to retreat and detach now and again will open us up to the temptation to act under own sense of power to address the challenges in our own lives and all around us.
And here's the truth about our own sense of power: We're not that powerful. If we keep trying to do it all under own steam, we'll soon run out of steam.
We need to find our own Eremos Topos and spend some time reconnecting with God, finding our center through prayer and peace, and realize we sometimes need to be a human being rather than a human doing.
May this be true for you. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.
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