There are several misconceptions about the practice of solitude and contemplative silence. Solitude is more than being alone and quiet during prayer time and bible study. It is more than walking alone in the woods savoring a favorite hideaway and seeking isolation to escape the cares of the world. It is more than the relaxation from stress you desire on a beautiful and well-needed vacation.
Solitude is a sacred place of silence where God has access to our inner being and soul. The desert fathers and mothers of the 4th and 5th century retreated to the wilderness not to necessarily withdraw from society, but to locate to a place without the distractions where they could focus intensely on the presence and love of God. They soon discovered it wasn’t the location that was the problem. The real issue was they had to escape themselves. The problem is within us not from our outside surroundings. Imagine the number of people who went to the desert and then departed proclaiming, “I am leaving this god-forsaken dry, dusty desert heat! This place is no man’s land!”
Solitude and contemplative silence is about self-denial and dying to your will and plans. Silence is an invitation for the presence of God to occupy and reside in our heart and mind. Silence intentionally works at dethroning the thoughts of the fallen self and flesh by continually releasing and letting go of them. (Mystics see beyond this world)
It is essential to understand that our rational reason and thinking do not perceive the contemplative mind and solitude. It is a gift of God where His life invades our lives, and we find out we live in union with the eternal One of the universe as we exchange our life for His Life. The practice of solitude and contemplative prayer (The Goal of Contemplative Prayer) is life-transforming.
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