Collage of the life of the Little Brothers of Francis
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The Quest for Solitude

Hermitage at Carceri near Assisi
The Carceri near Assisi; a hermitage
on the site of a cave where St Francis
sought to be alone with God

There are two sides to seeking solitude.  There are those who are running away from something; and there are those who are running after something.

The first are those who seek solitude as a relief from their frenetic and busy lifestyles in the city with its crowds, noise, the stress of the workplace and hectic social life.  They seek times and places of solitude for rest and renewal.  For them, solitude is an end in itself.

Then there are those who seek solitude because they are running after something.  Monks, nuns and hermits seek solitude to find someone.

My soul is a thirst for God, athirst for the living God.  (Psalm 42:2)

Dry as a thirsty land, I reach out to you.  (Psalm 143:6)

We all k4 March, 2010etachment from competing interests is necessary, both externally and internally.  So solitude provides that environment for this to happen in our desire for a more intimate relationship with God.

Sometimes when we approach a person and wish to speak with them personally, we will ask them "Are you busy?" or we will knock on the door of the the office and ask "Are you alone?" meaning "Are you free and disengaged?".  This is what is being sought in solitude.

The privacy of the room, to which our Lord bids us to go and to shut the door to seek God's face in prayer, has a depth beyond a warning against spiritual pride.  The room, like solitude, is a necessary place of separation conducive to being attentive and focussed on Him speaking to us.

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