During a particularly stressful season back in our 20s my friend and I used to joke about how we really wanted to enter some kind of treatment facility. "I just want to be somewhere pretty, where they feed me and hand out medicine. And I get to wear my bathrobe all day. And all I have to do is go to "circle time" and do art." A few years ago we discovered that each of us secretly enjoyed The Starting Over House television program, because, though those ladies didn't wear bathrobes all day, they did get to remove themselves from the hectic demands of everyday life and create the space and rest they needed to work through their hurts and issues. We wanted to start over too!
But as much as we longed to go, my friend and I didn't need to be in a facility. We just wanted a break. We work on our hurts and issues in the midst of busy lives filled with work and ministry and relationship and the quotidian tasks of maintaining a home and life. Life continues to make its natural demands on us no matter what work we are doing inside our souls. The toilets must be scrubbed, the laundry must be done, groceries must be bought, the oil must be changed every 3000 miles... We just wanted to have a break from having to think about money and work assignments and "did I remember to buy cat food?" so that our souls could grieve and heal and listen to whatever instruction or comfort God had for the stuff going on inside us.
I think that for me, in this intense season, the discipline of solitude is like that. It is a break. It creates space inside to come rest and breathe deeply and to "sink down into the silence and solitude of God." I need that space. I need moments when my entire job is to breathe and know that God is love. Don't worry. Don't try to solve all the problems. Be gentle. Don't try to "get better" or "snap out of it." Don't try to escape or control the situation. Be still. Be patient. Just breathe.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. ~ Isaiah 30:15
Returning. Rest. Quietness. Trust. Just what the Doctor ordered.