This is day 7 in a 31 day series on hospitality. You can start from the beginning here.
We often have nothing to give others because we are bankrupt.
The irony is that we haven’t learned to help others because we haven’t learned to help ourselves.
Solitude is how we help ourselves.
It is in solitude that we develop a rich inner life that sustains us and spills over into the lives of others.
In Radical Hospitality, Pratt says that,
“When we are alone, we have cut off our normal routes to escaping ourselves. Not only that, solitude hacks off most of the usual ways we feel affirmed. In solitude, we cease being competent workers. We do no serve or nurture others in solitude, and we seldom talk. Once amputated from these normal support systems, we discover a throbbing restlessness that begins to surface. Ancient wounds to the psyche begin ascending into the conscious region of the mind. They float up like long dead bodies. Illusions shatter around us and wisdom gets a chance to get hold of us.”
Most of us are scared to death of solitude. We know that our demons linger there. We are haunted by the truth about ourselves and solitude threatens to expose us.
But if you can stay with solitude long enough to get past the initial pangs of emptiness and helplessness, you will find a beauty and strength there that cannot be possessed in any other way.
Your demons aren’t that scary when exposed to the light of day. The emptiness is a God-given longing for home, for Him. He is in the solitude. It’s His face we find there and it’s there where we come to truly cherish this life, these relationships.
Learning to be alone is a spiritual discipline. It takes practice. And it’s become nearly impossible in our modern world full of chaos and distractions.
“We possess inward solitude at a very high cost. It does not come easily. In solitude, we feel helpless and almost out of control. We have grown dependent on others and the noises we make at each other. We do not even know how to imagine our lives without the bustle.”
The problem is, most of us moderns have neither solitude nor true relationship. We live our lives in the murky middle, where it’s comfortable and doesn’t cost us anything.
But true relationship and solitude both require us to be fully present, fully alive to both our fears and our deepest vulnerabilities.
I like to call it living on the dangerous edge of life, where joy is possible but so is falling.
You can stay in your comfort zone and miss the danger.
Or you can enter the wild abundant life that awaits just on the other side of solitude.
The riches you will discover there will lead you to a life that naturally overflows to your neighbor and meets his need without you even trying.
Solitude breeds hospitality. In silence, true conversation is born. Out of my emptiness and heartache, I see how desperately I need others.
And falling is finally the least of my worries.
When all else around me is quiet, I can finally hear His voice.
Only then do I have something worth sharing.