The English poet John Dryden wrote:

An horrid stillness first invades the ear,
and in that silence we the tempest fear.

Does that not speak to the heart of loneliness? Stillness and silence can be frightening and leave us alone to encounter our worst fears. Have you sometimes found that you cannot fall asleep if it’s too quiet? For some the drone of white noise, music or television is a necessary tool to dull the mind into a sleep-ready state.

On the other hand, there are people who much prefer to have quietness and be alone. Other more extroverted people may think something is wrong with the one who wants to be alone, but the satisfied introvert functions with greater ease in a world that has less social interaction. These are the people who buy noise-cancelling headphones and can work long shifts in isolation.

In the spiritual practice of Solitude we find a secret world of therapeutic presence with the God whose preferred tone is a quiet, small voice.  We need times of solitude with God because our heads are filled to capacity with all of our occupations, pre-occupations, fears and false pretences.

Richard Foster said,
“There is an intimate connection between solitude and silence. Silence, you see, creates in us an open, empty space where we are enabled to become attentive to God.”[2]

Think about it… a way to create an empty place inside you where God alone is welcomed…

Solitude then can be seen as a form of mental and spiritual housekeeping. There is too much clutter in the living space for which we were created to commune with God. This is a different place than the communal prayer and worship we experience as a church. Solitude becomes much more personal and allows you to be yourself before God.

[1] John Dryden, The Poetical Works of John Dryden, F.C. and J. Rivington, 1811, ‘Astraea Redux’ poem, p.26
[2] Richard Foster, “The Making Of An Ordinary Saint”, Baker Books ©2014, p.68