For an extrovert like me, solitude is an interesting idea, but not one that I practice as much as I should. I love good conversation and having people around me, and even when there aren’t people around, I find myself doing things to be “around” people like spending time on Facebook, instant messaging my sister, texting my friends, listening to music, or becoming part of the story in a novel. And really, as a wife and mom who works full-time, who has time for solitude anyway?
And yet, when I read about the spiritual disciplines, and about Jesus’ time on the earth, it reminds me that solitude is necessary in my life. And yet it is so hard to get any. I read this in Anne Jackson’s Mad Church Disease this week:
“It is difficult to unplug. Internet is relatively inexpensive, as are mobile phones that receive email. Our TVs and TiVo’s and iPods and satellite radios give us comfort and convenience, but when we rely on them so heavily, they also give us headaches and no time for solitude.”
Ouch. Get off my toes please.
So when and how do I get solitude? I realized just last weekend that one of my places of solitude is running. I have chosen for the past year to not take along my iPod or my phone when I run. Then instead of singing words in my head (or who am I kidding, out loud) or wondering who sent that text that came through I can pray, enjoy the scenery, listen to the birds, watch the clouds, and revel in the fact that God created my body and I am caring for his creation as I am out running.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I get distracted all the time thinking about what I have to do later or how I am going to figure out this or that issue at home or at work, but I can usually acknowledge those things and bring my mind back around. And boy is it nice to have uninterrupted time with God. Time to talk. Time to listen. Time to just be.
As Richard Foster says in Celebration of Discipline, in order to get solitude I am taking advantage of the little solitudes in my day. Whether that be running, laying in bed for a few moments after the alarm goes off, or a few moments after the kids are in bed, I can find moments of solitude in my day when I don’t have the time to carve out more.
I still love to run with other people sometimes (after all, community is very important in our lives as well as solitude, and I have some great running partners), but for now, I’ll continue to cherish my solitude runs and time with the Lord.
How about you? Where do you find solitude in your day?