Christianity, Recovery, Spirituality

Solitude

April showers came a few days early. The garden is loving it. I’m always amazed how quickly everything springs forth from the soil. One day there’s three or four plants poking through and the next there are rows of beans and mounds of squash and cantaloupe. Truly amazing…

My reflections this morning centered on the 23rd Psalm. Even people who aren’t familiar with a Judeo-Christian reading of the Bible know it. It tends to be used in funerals and generally associated with death. I find it has far more to do with living.

As much as I enjoy my time on the porch and the quiet moments of reflection, sitting quietly isn’t one of my strong points. It sounds like a contradiction; but let me explain. I tend to be like most folks. I occupy my “quiet time” with reading or other ways to keep my mind busy. I like busy-ness. Most folks do. If I stay busy enough; if I read enough, write enough, or play enough music in the background, I don’t have to listen to the inner voices that come out when I cease all those activities. Sitting in complete silence and solitude, if I’m honest, is extremely uncomfortable.

In Twelve Step programs of recovery there’s a whole step dedicated to the idea of prayer and meditation as a tool to keep in contact with God. Religious practices call for contemplation or meditation in various forms as the means to connect with whatever their Higher Power or enlightened state might be. I must confess though: I really suck at it.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve become increasingly aware of my inability to really meditate, to sit in total quiet and solitude. The more my awareness increases, the more I want to get rid of the external noise and listen to the “still, small voice” of God. Now, I’m no spiritual giant. That becomes obvious as I seek the discipline of solitude.

Over the years I’ve heard, and tried, various methods of meditation. Some have worked, and most haven’t. They all require practice and I get too busy. Sound familiar? So, when a friend suggested I try simply thinking about the 23rd Psalm in my time of silence and solitude, I agreed to give it a try. He told me to break it down into small chunks and breathe in and out to the lines – in (“The Lord is my shepherd”) and out (“I shall not want”).

It hasn’t been easy. The quieter I get, the louder the internal voices. Even five minutes can be incredibly difficult. At least for a while…

Solitude has become somewhat easier. The fact that “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” has become to make sense. It frees me to walk in the world. Even though I’ve always known that my needs are met, I don’t always act like it. It just gets easier. I still make the decision to let the God of my understanding direct my steps (usually many times a day….) although I don’t always act that way, either. Fear still creeps in, but it doesn’t govern my choices as frequently; but then I remember I have a “Good Shepherd leading the way and everything’s okay… at least for today…

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