For a few minutes be ‘in solitude’. Close your eyes. Sit in your chair and put both feet on the floor. Put your hands on your legs, palms facing down. Take notice of your breathing, do not try to change it, just notice it. Become aware of your thoughts, acknowledge what is troubling you, or making you joyful (these thoughts that immediately spring to your mind may be the way God is urging you.) Repeat in your mind the words from the Psalm ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. Rest in God’s presence. (At the appropriate time, the host for today will say ‘Amen’).
As a child did you ever play hide and seek? Take turns to talk about your favourite hiding places as a child.
Discuss the difference in being lost to playing hide and seek. Playing is fun, being lost is scary. In a similar way there is a big difference in being and feeling alone to the practice of solitude.
‘Hide and seek is a game whereby you generally aren’t left on your own for a long time. I have a friend who played hide and seek at a Summer School one year. It was the adults that had to hide and the young people had to find them! There were adults hidden in trees, in cupboards, in huge packing boxes and the young people had difficulty in finding everyone. My friend spoke about how playing hide and seek, whilst fun, had also been a moment of “time out” in a busy week. She had taken a book with her and managed to remain hidden for 45 minutes and had enjoyed the quietness of being
alone, where no-one knew she was simply reading, simply being.’
Solitude is a positive withdrawal which is intentional. Similar to my friend’s experience solitude is a withdrawal from a situation for a specific purpose.
While withdrawing from a situation one is drawn towards something else, a place of prayer and reflection. You have now made a conscious decision
resulting in an intentional move towards the presence of Almighty God. Solitude done in this way allows the changing of one’s mind from the worldly to the heavenly. It allows time for a new focus and a new
direction. Mark 6:31 gives the words of Jesus to his disciples on what was a very busy moment after he had fed over 5,000 people.
‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’Mark 6:31
Jesus knew that the disciples needed to simply ‘be’ and change their focus from ‘doing’ to ‘being’. Life is busy for many; volunteering, helping with
grandchildren, appointments and many other things that take our time and energy. Technology means that we are constantly available so it is important to remember the words of Jesus. Take some time to not be so available, just for a while, and sit in solitude with God.
Susanna Wesley, the mother of Charles and John Wesley, had a growing family with children pulling at her apron strings from morning till night yet she knew the importance of solitude. She would pull her apron over her head and it was then that her children recognised that she was in ‘solitude’ with God. Susanna would pray there and then, surrounded by her nineteen
children. She needed two hours a day with God on her own so that she could fulfil her role as mother to the best of her ability.
It is often said that in a crowded room you can still feel very alone. Solitude is not about being lonely or alone. Solitude is an awareness of God and the connection with the divine.
There are many times in the New Testament where we read of Jesus spending time in solitude. Perhaps look them up this coming week. (Luke 4 is a good one to start with when we encounter Jesus in the wilderness.)
Solitude is a spiritual discipline that when practiced will allow you to have more peace, strength and hope to fulfil daily life than you could possibly ever imagine.
With grateful thanks to Major Alison Thompson
Some people find it very difficult to be quiet, but to get us started on our journey of solitude we are going to have 5 minutes of silence. In that silence it is entirely up to you what you do. You may simply close your eyes and reflect on the scripture for today. You may even fall asleep, do not be worried if you do, God is still there in our sleeping moments. You may want to read a passage of scripture, the choice is yours. But be intentionally still in the presence of God.
‘Be still and know that I am God.’
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I AM
Be still and know
Bring in some recent news stories which have affected those involved in a negative way.