solitude

Only solitude can provide the depth for universal friendship

Only solitude can provide the depth for universal friendship. Those who can be solitary have withdrawn their projections and are innately nonviolent. They have broken with the crowd, and their communities do not become rival crowds in their turn. Solitude gives us the transformational insight that all things are held together in the boundless, open community of God. To be friends with one another is only seeing what we are in God together. This insight is the criterion of all genuine holiness.

Holiness demands courage. The courage born of holiness.

~ from COMMON GROUND by Laurence Freeman

July-August 2002

SUMMER BLESSINGS, dear friends! May your vacations, family gatherings, and rereation traveling be balanced with inward diving into the depths of silence and solitude. Re-creation and renewal, peace and harmony become summer fruits of this inner-outer balance. Thus are you true to yourself.

The difference between loneliness and solitude

It was from my experience in alternating work at the Red Cross and forest service that I began to learn the difference between loneliness and solitude. I now believe that loneliness occurs when our lives are somehow missing one-half of a pair of opposites — being and doing. We can be very busy and surrounded by people yet still feel intense loneliness because our lives are dominated by "doing;" there is insufficient time for attentive solitude with our thoughts and feeling. When your life is filled with too much doing, the only cure for loneliness is a strong dose of solitude, a form of solitude that is meditative and open to your inner self.

~ from BALANCING HEAVEN AND EARTH by Robert A. Johnson

We are made for solitude

We are made for solitude. Our lives may be rich in relationships, but the human self remains a mystery of enfolded inwardness that no other person can possibly enter and know. If we fail to embrace our ultimate aloneness and seek meaning only in communion with others, we wither and die. The farther we travel toward the great mystery, the more at home we must be with our essential aloneness in order to stay healthy and whole. Our equal and opposite needs for solitude and community constitute a great paradox.

~ from THE COURAGE TO TEACH by Parker Palmer

Solitude is an attitude

Solitude is an attitude, an attitude of gratitude. It is a state of mind, a state of heart, a whole universe unto itself.

~ from FOOD FOR SOLITIIDE by Francine Schiff

Your solitude will bear immense fruit

Your solitude will bear immense fruit in the souls of men and women you will never see on earth.

~ from THE SEVEN STORY MOUNTAIN by Thomas Merton
The Seven Storey Mountain
By Thomas Merton

A silent, invisible spiritual concourse

Our image of solitude is often negative: withdrawal, isolation, distance from others. But this misrepresents the hermitage which is like a silent, invisible spiritual concourse; a place where many can converge without sinking into a crowd, and become a community of love. Every human heart is a hermitage, if we care to enter and find ourselves there in union with all. In solitude friend, foe, and stranger are equally known in love.

~ from WEB OF SILENCE bv Laurence Freeman

Being alone

Being alone — physically alone atop a mountain — reminds me of how seldom one is alone in the sort of urbanized life we live nowadays. As I sat, there was a certain peace which I was able to capture for a moment. This physical aloneness is by no means the same as loneliness — not even close kin to it; for I was not alone. On occasions when I am able to get to a mountain top, the realization of the nature of the "mountain-top experience" returns anew.

~ from BALM IN GILEAD by Sara Lawrence Lightfoot
Balm in Gilead: Journey of a Healer
By Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

In prayer we assume responsibility for injustice in our self and the world

We find the world at the heart of God. The deeper our prayer is, the deeper we enter into solidarity with a suffering world. In solitude this compassionate solidarity grows. In solitude we realize that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy, and envy are deeply anchored in our own hearts. Nothing human is alien to us either. In prayer we assume responsibility for injustice in our self and the world.

~from SPACE FOR GOD by Don Postema

Nowhere to go, nothing to do

There is great value to be realized in periods of solitude and silence for those whose lives are in and of the world. Although I had gone into solitude for four days every year over the past twenty years, I needed a more sustained period of aloneness to recover the freshness of my spirit and to see that which was not true. "Nowhere to go, nothing to do" — these were the words that informed my days.

~ by Joan Halifax
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