Sanctuaries of Solitude

When I was a child, it was my habit to retreat from the intensity of the world into the safe and happy province of my imagination. I was a daydreamer, and an avid reader- a combination that guaranteed hours of ‘happily ever afters’. I have never enjoyed crowds. If I am at a community function, I tend to ‘do things’ rather than ‘be with’ people. I don’t know why- perhaps part of it lies in the belief that I am not worth getting to know. Perhaps a fear of silence in the company of another-whose mind I am unable to clamber into, stretch out, and relax upon? I am afraid that someone will ask the same old tired question “how are you”, and then walk away before I can think of an answer other than “fine”. Solitude is kind- accepting of my acutely sharp sensitivities to noise and other invasions of spirit. Solitude embraces me warmly, filling me with the strength that I need to engage in the dance of living. However, solitude is not to be confused with ’emptiness’ or ‘vacuum’, for it is in the state of being alone that I become more aware of the One. I realize that solitude is not abandonment, but the place of being at home. In Hebrew, God is frequently referred to as “Ha Makom”- the Place. That place- of being at home, in company with You- is my sanctuary. Perhaps it is true that we have to become utterly emptied before we can be filled again. For some, that happens in the presense of friends, in the bosom of comrades and in the elixier of conversation. And then again, in a different time and place, it happens in the quiet of a sleepless night, when the clarity of knowing that God IS rings out at a cellular level, and ravished by Holy Fire we pray that morning’s joy not eclipse that hour wraithed in sacred tears. Who can you weep with? There are so few who safely bear witness. To come into Your presense is fullness of joy. And in the coming, I am strengthened for the going.

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