In spite of America’s affluence,…..In spite of all the materialism which surrounds us, and the innumerable activities that demand our energies…..In spite of our basic human freedoms and opportunities, we have a new kind of poverty affecting our lives. Robert Banks (All the Business of Life) says it well when he states that we have “a new poverty” in our lives for we are poorer than most countries in the world when it comes to time. “What we have gained in terms of material things, we have lost in terms of disposable time.”
To reclaim our time poverty is a major challenge of our day. A typical response is, “Well, I’ll do that when I find the time,” right? Yet, if we already have all the time there is…we are going to need to find better ways of managing ourselves. No one is going to create a 25 hour day! To do so, we have to re-discover what is truly important for us, learn to say “no” to requests that are not in line with our new priorities and re kindle our capacity to hear God’s spirit speaking in our lives.”
To cure this poverty, we need an infusion of spiritual solitude. I’m not talking about becoming a monk! Nor am I suggesting that we waste time picking lint out of our navels. I’m talking about making time for ourselves to reflect upon life at a deeper level, and to hear/ sense God’s voice re-directing our hearts so we can make wise decisions based upon knowledge of our truest self.
Thomas Merton once said (New Seeds ) “There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend; to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him, I will find myself; and if I find my true self, I will find Him.” Spiritual solitude is not a luxury, but something that is necessary to know our truest selves. Spiritual solitude, which consists of times to pause in reflection, or times to slow down and ponder our lives, surely is something that is blessed by God. When we seek the spirituality of solitude we begin to calm down, seeing life with new eyes rather than reacting to the life events that do not line up with our busy plans.
For years I would make time early each morning to read a spiritual meditation and tjournal my thoughts and feelings about it. I find that my mind works differently when I write with pen on paper.(It also seems that there is an increase in my pen’s output whenever I am anxious or upset!) But such moments do provide me with increased clarity and direction in my life. In the early years, I was more concerned with what I was to DO, but over time I have been learning simply how to BE, and be-connected. This has become one of the gifts of my own spiritual solitudes. But I wonder what your gifts will be, or how our gifts might intersect in the future? Of course not everyone will find their spiritual solitude in the same way. For instance one of my friends meditates as he stretches each morning in his bedroom in order to be centered and purposeful in his interactions of the coming day. A lady in my neighborhood, living with terminal lung cancer, finds her sacred solitude as she sips morning coffee in her favorite chair, as she ponders the ebbing of her life, and the courage to live each day to the fullest. Others walk their dogs, pausing to take in the beauty of the natural world in a beautiful scene, some write out their prayers to God each day in a journal, or listen to something inspirational that moves their hearts with love. There are those read to apply Biblical wisdom to their lives, or read something by Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, or Fredrick Buechner whose writings tend to lift our vision beyond our petty little lives. Through such means we discover that there is something greater, bigger, mystical…and spiritual. As we practice these disciplines, we begin to realize that we too, are connected to a creative God whose ceaseless, loving energy never fails to woo us into the heart of all that truly matters ...And so the journey continues...