Grateful to be Almost No One

Solitude, says the moon shell.  Center-down, say the Quaker saints.  To the possession of the self the way is inward, says Plotinus.  The cell of self-knowledge is the stall in which the pilgrim must be reborn, says St. Catherine of Siena.  Voices from the past.  In fact, these are pursuits and virtues of the past.  But done in another way today because done consciously, aware, with eyes open.  Not done as before, as part of the pattern of the time.  Not done because everyone else is doing them; almost no one is doing them.  Revolutionary, in fact, because almost every trend and pressure, every voice from the outside is against this new way of inward living.

[Anne Morrow Lindbergh:  Gift from the Sea, pgs. 56-57]


11 thoughts on “Grateful to be Almost No One

  1. Because without solitude in a day, every inner journey to the eternal is foiled, exhausting, a willing plum-to-be, sucked dry of vital juice. If we don’t demand a tiny corner of orchard, reserve it unto He-and-I, protect it –He can still blossom us, but will there be more of a fruit than a sere ol’ prune? Prunes are not nothing, but it’s rude to hand them to the hungry. Without enough Him, I am a big-blossomed prune (so to speak). It’s not fair to any of us. In a way, holy solitude is also a work of mercy.

  2. Being single-minded enough to keep on the road we have chosen regardless of how counter-cultural it proves to be,providing ourselves with space enough for holy solitude like Jesus did when he went up to the mountains or into the desert to be alone – and coming to terms with what we find in ‘ the cell of self- knowledge’. All made possible by grace,’with eyes open.’

  3. Well said, and a good reminder that even the Lord went off by Himself often to pray. I recall hanging out of the upstairs bathroom window with a boom box (yes, an interesting visual) tape-recording a spring’s early Sunday morn river-sounds. Oh, the balance of birds from one end to another with the silence! I’ve often marveled over similar times since then, and had thought briefly to tape/upload it for others, but I noticed the trucks, cars, motorcycles zooming by, the dogs barking, a telephone ringing, folks shouting laughter, someone pounding nails, lawnmower, etc. All of those sounds signal life going on and we are indeed set here and supposed to be a part of that, too, but a steady diet of that and carting folks around and fielding questions and needs, and working, and running errands.. and with the peace and pace of daily Mass wearing off within moments for a family-person, we have to do something more toward solitude.

    Mostly, tho’, I’m popping in to remind us (and perhaps you’re already on top of this all) that Deacon Dan might be in hurricane Ike’s path as is a good chunk of coast lined with other folks; Ike is a very serious storm, as we’ve seen, and prayers cannot go amiss.

  4. Lindbergh points out many times in her book that this isn’t “just going to happen” for most of us – we have to “make” that time and “find” that space, which is what the actual practice, or discipline, of contemplative prayer requires as well, on a daily basis. Our families have to understand that this isn’t a luxury or a whim – that it is a vital part of our spiritual lives, and that it’s not for ourselves alone in reality. But despite the increase I’ve seen in recent years for knowledge about the contemplative life, I would agree that it’s still counter-cultural. I was just listening to the news the other night where they were showing that Chrysler is putting the Internet into all of their new cars. Saints preserve us, as my grandmother used to say.

    C, thanks for the update re Ike being so close to dd’s area; I didn’t see any news today. Will say some prayers tonight.

  5. Gabrielle: You are SO right, that it “isn’t just going to happen for most of us”. Yes, most of us DO have to “make that time” and “find that space. And Yes, it does require an ongoing & persistent “practice”. In addition, I have rarely discovered anyone who seems to “appreciate” (understand?) the NEED for this element in our lives (spiritual, mental, emotional, physical…).

    Sadly, there have been few times in my life, and in my significant relationships, where I DIDN’T have to clamor and struggle to carve out that “solitude” time…once I reached that stage in my own life when I recognized it’s immeasurable worth. For some reason, it often seems to make others feel “uncomforable”, even “rejected”…not realizing that this very experience makes one MORE capable of healthy love & intimacy, trust and genuine friendship. This “God time” refreshes, strengthens, revives and renews the spirit, like nothing else can.

    Thank you for sharing w/us the precious truths that you are discovering (and that I am therefore, RE-discovering) as you read thru this wonderful book.


  6. Speaking of cars, sometimes I just park mine where I’m not likely to be bothered for a while. When it worked better, it took me to the ocean and to the buffalo farm; now, it takes me to trees near the Goodwill, or even to a far parking spot in some lot. If nothing else, tho’, there are corners of the library, and corners at any book store, and sometimes a playground or cemetery that approximate solitude, and truly some of these have been more readily or more consistently solitude-conducive than even churches, and certainly moreso than in my “Grand Central Station” home.

  7. Hi Jan! I’m heading over to visit. I have a brain like a seive. A subversive and counter-cultural seive. 😉

    Kristin, clamoring and struggling for solitude – I am familiar with the scenario – was a part of it for many years, and that’s what probably worked against my finding it. Now solitude must be a part of my day, either inside or outside the home, preferably some of both, unless dire circumstances dictate otherwise.

    It’s true, Carol, we can find it if we try, even if it’s not to the full extent of what we hope for. A walk through a cemetary, a few moments in a chapel, fifteen minutes under a weeping willow, sitting on the back step at twilight – even a little bit every day will refresh us and give us strength to keep going – and hopefully enough strength to throw ourselves with as much joy as possible into the Grand Central Stations of our days…

  8. Dear Jan, I visited your blog but cannot leave a comment there because it accepts only google users. Just want you to know that you and yours are in my prayers tonight re hurricane situation, and also that I enjoyed very much reading the list of books you’ve read/are reading in 2008!

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