The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while."
For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. (Mark 6:30-32, ESV)
Deliberately seeking solitude and silence ... that's a difficult thing for so many of us, myself included. Frankly, we aren't comfortable in solitude or silence. I'd wager to say most of us are even a little frightened by the concept. Our hurried, worried world rushes along at a break-neck pace and, if we are honest, we like it that way. To stop and go away is to feel loneliness rush in and cast a dark shadow over our souls. Yet the example of Jesus says otherwise ... He calls us today just as He called His disciples to "Come away ... to a desolate place."
We tend to view solitude in the wrong way. In studying writings by Richard Foster and Chuck Swindoll, they note that true solitude is quite the opposite of being lonely and alone. In fact, when we give ourselves over to the solitude God would provide, we know at the core of our being that we are not alone. And, as Foster notes, we create a "portable sanctuary" that allows us a season of rest even in the middle of our hectic world. In solitude, we find the inner fulfillment that connects us with the God who loves us so much, He gave up His own Son.
Silence often accompanies solitude. Many writing on the Christian disciplines will combine them; most will link them at the very least. As with the heart pitched toward meditation, practicing silence and solitude puts us in a position to more clearly hear God as He speaks to us. Swindoll even notes that God doesn't speak to a hurried mind.
As I continue my Lenten side trip on this Crooked Path, I am challenged to consider my approach to disciplines such as solitude. I wonder if I would take advantage even just a little of the times it presents itself, if I would truly be still as the Psalmist says, what would I hear God say? I'm certain at least part of His message would be to remind me just how much He loves me.