It is a sad thought to realize that you have nothing to write about. No ideas that you have been mulling over, no challenging thoughts that you have recently been presented with, or no questions for which you are seeking answers.
This blog brought out this emotion in me.
Challenged to begin writing for this blog, I quickly realized how little I had to offer to this endeavor. Confused as to how people have so many brilliant and original ideas, I didn’t know if this was something for me.
But only a few weeks after committing to this endeavor, I heard a talk on the impact of monasticism. The speaker offered a simple but profound statement in this talk that has invigorated me since.
Solitude aids community, and community aids solitude.
The monastic lifestyle was one of work, prayer, and study. Ora, lege et labora was the common phrase in Latin. These monks practiced daily the act of solitude and have been an example of this important discipline ever since.
We as a culture seem always in a hurry. There is a buzz of noise to everything that we do. We have few if any parallels to the solitude that they practiced. We have been tricked into believing that constant community is good for us. We must always be plugged in and a part of something at all times. The invention of the smartphone is perhaps the best example of the pseudo feeling of community at any and all times.
Since hearing this talk on monastic solitude I have taken to heart the importance of solitude, looking to create more time and space to think. I have been amazed at the number of simple ideas and thoughts that have come out of my small practice of solitude.
But although one may understand the value of solitude, how does solitude aid community?
Think about the places that people often reference as the location of some of their best thinking: sitting on the lawnmower, standing in the shower, or working outdoors. This is no accident. These are the few places that force us into solitude, and we often return from these places with clear direction, new ideas, invigorated with passion for the next task at hand, and now also having something to offer to those around us.
My attempt at solitude and reflection has produced in me something worth sharing. This sharing, in turn, aids others. That is why I read so many people’s articles, blogs, and books. They have found the space for ideas to grow and flourish into something worth sharing. I hope in some way that I can do that for you, the reader, as I pursue solitude and have time to think, as I listen to the echoes of ideas and begin to piece them together for application in my life that we might grow and challenge one another.
I want to continue to explore this idea of how solitude aids community and community aids solitude in my coming posts. Looking into the distractions that deter us from it, how to create a setting of solitude, and how that solitude can improve community.