“Solitude spiritualizes the whole [person], transforms [them], body and soul, from a carnal to a spiritual being. It can only do so in the Spirit of Christ Who elevates our whole being in God, and does not divide [a person’s] personality against itself like those false asceticisms which St. Paul knew to be enemies of the Cross of Christ.” (Thomas Merton. Disputed Questions. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1953, 1959, 1960, p. 172.)
True Christian spirituality unites our inner life and outer life. False ascetisms dis-integrate us, body from soul and spirit. We look down on the body and idealize our false vision of the inner life. Spirituality is embodied. Spiritual practices involve our body, some more obviously than others.
Solitude makes us holy as a being alone with God, not as personally directed privacy. Isolation is not solitude. Me alone with myself isn’t sanctifying. Alone and apart from God is not a place of life. Alone with God is.
- Think about recent times when you’ve been alone. At what points did you feel alone for yourself (privacy)? At what points did you feel alone with God (solitude)?
- How would you describe the difference between these two ways of being alone?
- How is God inviting you to moment alone with Him day-to-day? What would energize, encourage and refresh you alone in His presence?
(Repost from April 2010)