solitude

By The Gatehouse

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“O Lord my God, where have I been sleeping? What have I been doing? How slowly I awaken once again to the barrenness of my life and its confusion. You will forgive me if it is often that way—I do not mean it to be. How little faith there has been in me—how inert have been my hours of solitude, how my time has been wasted. You will forgive me if next week, too, my time is all wasted and I am once again in confusion. But at least this afternoon, sitting on a boulder among the birches, I thought with compunction of Your love. . . . And again tonight, by the gatehouse, I thought of the hope You have planted in our hearts.”

~ Thomas Merton, A Search For Solitude

Painting by Stanislav Yulianovich Zhukovsky (1926)

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Natural Loneliness

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“…as human, we crave belonging, we need the connectedness to others that brings security, but this connectedness can prevent the natural movement and evolution that we need in our lives. It can also get in the way of creativity and stifle the natural loneliness that pushes us to discover something new, that pushes us closer to God. This loneliness is the loneliness of the individual who steps out from the group, who takes a chance on what can be discovered and done outside the norm.”

~ Jean Vanier

Sensitive To The Divine

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“God always calls. To hear that call and allow it to guide our actions requires discipline in order to prevent ourselves from remaining or becoming spiritually deaf. There are so many voices calling for our attention and so many activities distracting us that a serious effort is necessary if we are to become and remain sensitive to the divine presence in our lives.”

~ Henri Nouwen

Riverbed of Mercy

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“There is something in you that is not touched by coming and going, by up and down, by for or against, by the raucous team of totally right or totally wrong. There is a part of you that is patient with both goodness and evil, exactly as God is. There is a part of you that does not rush to judgment or demand closure now. Rather, it stands vigilant and patient in the tragic gap that almost every moment offers.

God is a riverbed of mercy. It is vast, silent, restful, and resourceful, and it receives and also lets go of all the comings and goings. It is awareness itself (as opposed to judgment itself), and awareness is not, as such, “thinking.” It refuses to be pulled into the emotional and mental tugs of war that most of life is. To look out from this untouchable silence is what we mean by contemplation.”

~ Richard Rohr

Offer Hospitality

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“We cannot change the world by a new plan, project or idea. We cannot even change other people by our convictions, stories, advice, and proposals, but we can offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, to lay aside their occupations and preoccupations and to listen with attention and care to the voices speaking in their own center.”

~ Henri Nouwen