"Silence is the way to make solitude a reality"
When I was a girl, I spent many hours with my grandmother on her front porch watching the rain. Sometimes we would talk but more often than not words were unimportant and instead we would both get lost in the beautiful conversation between the wind and the raindrops. I did not understand in those days how she was schooling me in the art of solitude. All of the mornings I would find her in her breakfast room, sipping coffee and listening to the serenade of the blue jays and cardinals outside of her opened back door, she was teaching me the importance of what Wordsworth called "a wise passiveness."
I have known people who find themselves anything but companionable and I feel so sad for them as I have nearly always enjoyed my own company. This is not because I am anything special, but rather that I was taught at an early age to appreciate, even relish silence and solitude and to seek it out regularly as one might seek time with a dear friend. Sadly, this is a lost art in our current time and with an ever increasing number of distractions and ways to connect with others, this generation has forgotten how to connect with self, which ironically leaves us with much less to offer all the other people with whom we work so hard to connect.
Paul Tillich said that "Language has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone, and the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone." I long for my own children to know the glory of being alone for it is in that place where we become acquainted with our true selves and can then see the transformation from who we are to who we can become. God's transforming grace can meet us in the contemplative silence with an overwhelming clarity that is unknown in the hustle and bustle of busy living and it is a meeting of unparalleled importance. It is what elevates the leader from good to great, the Christian from shallow to deep and the person who is alone from pain to glory.