The Edge of Solitude

Alone, in the cave that he loved so well near the summit of Mt. Subasio, Francis met God again ... Silence and solitude had become dear and sweet to Francis. As he reflected on that, he remembered a time when it was not so. In his youth, he dreaded and took refuge in the gaiety and laughter and frolicking of his friends. Always, at the edge of his consciousness, however, was the somber specter called Aloneness.

That's the way Aloneness appeared to Francis then -- a specter, a mortal enemy bearing a sickle in its hand. It was only when he finally met that specter head on, after his conversion experience, that he found the IT became HER; and then he made friends with her. She became, in fact, his best friend and constant companion.

It was a struggle of course, a struggle to be alone and to allow the pain of loneliness to be transformed into the sweetness of solitude. It didn't come easily and without countless ways in which he had to let the specter within him die. Gradually, he saw that the specter was an illusion -- a figment of his own imagining.

Now, as Francis retrieved himself from the reverie, he thought to himself guiltily, I'm supposed to be praying. Then he smiled. He knew the reverie was part of his prayer, an important part. It was through such a reverie that he had come in the first place to understand solitude for what it really was: togetherness.

~ from TOUCH OF GOD by Fr. Kieran Kay