Many of us are getting weary of Stay at Home and Safer at Home. Even introverts enjoy going to the library and coffee shop. But for the sake of our health, and the health of others, we are hunkered down and outside life is a grinding halt for many of us.
It's early-May and, in Colorado, life is slowly opening up. Social distancing and face masks won't be going away any time soon though. And the virus will continue to be the world's unseen foe until a vaccine becomes a reality.
In my socially-distanced conversations with many, several words are often voiced.
Let's consider these in a three part reflection. First: Alone. Solitude.
People are admitting that they've had enough alone-time. Solitude is a sacred space where the soul meets God's loving presence. However, if we're not sure that God is, in fact, loving and good, then solitude seems dangerous!
If God is disappointed in me, and if I'm disappointed in myself, then I avoid being alone with God and being alone with myself. I heard one person say, "I don't like being with myself these days." Forced solitude has brought her to seeking obsessive distraction.
Solitude is a formative place because it gives God’s Spirit time and space to do deep work. When no one is there to watch, judge and interpret what we say, the Spirit often brings us face to face with hidden motives and compulsions. The world of recognition, achievement and applause disappears, and we stand squarely before God without props. . . . [W]e need solitude if we intend to unmask the false self and its important-looking image. Alone, without distractions, we put ourselves in a place where God can reveal things to us that we might not notice in the normal preoccupations of life. Solitude opens a space where we can bring our empty and compulsive selves to God.
Just before his last week among his disciples, Jesus stood at the entrance of Jerusalem and grieved, saying, "Jerusalem, . . . how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." (Mt 23:37, Lk 13:34)
In this Covid-time (and in every time), I believe that Jesus wants to lovingly gather his beloveds under his sheltering wings. He wants to show us things that we couldn't see when we felt free to distract ourselves from his gaze. He is inviting us to know Him, and to know ourselves, truly. When we are alone, we have space to hear his gracious invitation.
Are you resisting this time of solitude?
Turn away from distraction. Lift up your gaze. Take courage. Gaze upon the One who is gazing at you.
 Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, 112-113.