"If you could have full day of complete solitude, what would it look like?" our pastor asked in our adult Sunday School class last Sunday. We had been talking about the busyness of our lives and how we feel compelled to fill every moment.
Being busy has become a badge of honour. How we love to sigh and roll our eyes and lament about it, as if the more we do, the more we are worth.
The busier we are, the more important we feel; but beyond this, being busy gives us an excuse not to examine our motivations or explore our hearts too closely.
About three years ago, I began to 'yearn' for solitude. Long stretches of it. I dreamed of a one-room cottage by the water; one with a wood stove and no phone, no internet. A place where I had to time to think uninterrupted thoughts. Where I could live entirely in each moment without thinking of what comes next.
These thoughts coincided with a point of introspection in my life. And about that same time, I started taking occasional walks alone through the forest or along the shore. I remember one evening, strapping on my snowshoes and going out in a snowstorm to sit under a tree. Just to see how long I could stay there alone.
Sometimes I would find a spot in the woods and just sit on a log and breathe in the breath of trees. Or lay in the moss and try to separate all the smells and textures. Or simply watch the transformation of a sunset.
It's as if I am pulling myself away from the life I've created and getting closer to the life I was created for.
It will take courage to claim that place of extended solitude for myself. To embrace it and face whatever mystery it holds and then follow whatever path it reveals. But it will come in time. I need the silence to hear my heart. That's where God and I have our best conversations. If only I take the time to listen.