Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts on Solitude

The following is from the soon to be released pastor's devotional tool called Shepherd's Balm. Available in August 2010 through

It takes 20 times more the amount of amphetamine to kill individual mice than it takes to kill them in groups. Experimenters also find that a mouse given no amphetamine at all will be dead within 10 minutes of being placed in the midst of a group on the drug. In groups they go off like popcorn or firecrackers. Western men and women especially, talk a great deal about being individuals. But conformity to social pattern is hardly less remarkable than that of the mice - and just as deadly!

In solitude we find the psychic distance, the perspective from which we can see, in the light of eternity, the created things that trap, worry, and oppress us. Thomas Merton writes:

“That is the only reason why I desire solitude – to be lost to all created things, to die to them and to the knowledge of them, for they remind me of my distance from You: that You are far from them, even though You are in them. You have made them and your presence sustains their being and they hide you from me.”

But solitude, like all of the disciplines of the spirit, carries its risks. In solitude, we confront our own soul with its obscure forces and conflicts that escape our attention when we are interacting with others. Thus “solitude is a terrible trial, for it serves to crack open and burst apart the shell of our superficial securities. It opens out to us the unknown abyss that we all carry within us and discloses the fact that these abysses are haunted." We can only survive solitude if we cling to Christ there. And yet what we find of Him in that solitude enables us to return to society as free persons.

Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, pp 160-161.

Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

John 16:32 (NKJV)

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