Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Discipline of Solitude

Solitude, as spoken of in Celebration of Discipline, is much different than just being alone. In fact, author Richard Foster makes a distinction right away in this chapter between solitude and loneliness:
Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment.

I have tried to practice Solitude in the past, most memorably this past summer when I would get up early in the morning to spend about an hour fishing before work. The problem was that it wasn't always a meaningful time. I always enjoyed it, but I didn't always walk back to the house feeling like I accomplished anything - other than catching some fish!

From reading this chapter, I think the purpose of seeking Solitude is to emulate the example of Jesus. He often retreated to a place where He could be alone with His Father. We need to do that too.
... we must seek out the recreating stillness of solitude if we want to be
with others meaningfully. We must seek the fellowship and accountability of
others if we want to be alone safely. We must cultivate both if we are to live
in obedience.

That idea of balance between fellowship and solitude is difficult to achieve, yet I think it is very important if we hope to walk closely with our Father in Heaven and with our brothers and sisters here on earth.

Here are a few of the practical steps I love finding in each chapter of this book:
The first thing we can do is to take advantage of the "little solitudes"
that fill our day.

We can find or develop a "quiet place" designed for silence and

... let's experience with doing deeds without any words of explanation

Let's discipline ourselves so that our words are few and full.

Try to live one entire day without words at all.

Four times a year withdraw for three to four hours for the purpose of
reorienting your life goals.

Building off the last practical step, Foster takes some time to address the setting of goals, which has always been an area of weakness for me.
Goals are discovered, not made.

You are going to go somewhere so how much better to have a direction that
has been set by communion with the divine Center.

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