“Silence and solitude [is] the medicine for curing, among other things, deep distraction.”
– Chris Hall
Lately, I’ve been rethinking and praying about what solitude looks like for me.
As an introvert, I love (and thrive in) quiet. It re-energizes me. It fills the tank. However, I’ve found over the years (especially now) that it must be more and more intentional, and I believe that rings true regardless of temperament. Factors that change the landscape of our ability to find solitude range from where we live (i.e. living in the city, in a dorm, etc.) to having kids, as well as having networks of relationships, and yes, even technology effects our ability to find it. It can be hard to find time to be alone. However, I’ve been learning to intentionally grab moments of solitude with the Lord throughout the day. I like what Ruth Barton wrote:
Solitude is a place. It is a place in time that is set apart for God and God alone, a time when we unplug and withdraw from the noise of interpersonal interactions, from the noise, busyness and constant stimulation associated with life in the company of others. Solitude can also be associated with a physical place that has been set apart for times alone with God, a place that is not cluttered with work, noise, technology, other relationships, or any of those things that call us back into doing mode. Most important, solitude is a place inside myself where God’s Spirit and my spirit dwell together in union. (Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation)
Getting rid of distractions
A couple of months ago I attended an academic conference hosted by Renovaré and The Dallas Willard Center at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. This year also marks the 40 year anniversary of Richard Foster’s book The Celebration of Discipline, so it was a wonderful week of celebrating the impact that book has had over the years. During one of the sessions Richard Foster was sharing and recalling the first sentence of his book, “Superficiality is the curse of our age,” to which his editor commented from the side of the room, “Except, now it would be, ‘Distraction is the curse of our age!'” To which Richard elaborated. The anniversary printing of his 40 year book actually includes two new essays, one of which is about distraction. In his essay he shares:
Distraction is the primary spiritual problem in contemporary culture. Frankly, when we are perpetually distracted, we are unable to discern the Kol Yahweh, the voice of the Lord (Foster, 2018, p. x).
I feel that this rings true. I’ve felt the urgency to make times during the day, where I am not accompanied by any of the many technological devices that are so commonplace for us nowadays. If the phone is with me in these times, I power it off. I sometimes carry my field notes journal to write my thoughts, and am trying to be more intentional at having my bound, physical Bible with me in my times with the Lord. There seems to almost be a detoxing that we need to do regularly, to clear our heads (and hearts) of the technology that has infiltrated our lives, and create space. A place without distraction.
So, for me:
Solitude is a place without the plastic of a computer keyboard under my fingers
It is a place where the phone is off – not just on silent
No social media
Just a time to be:
In the moment
In the presence of the One who is always present
I invite you to turn off the computer and phone and listen for His voice.