There are several misconceptions about the practice of solitude and contemplative silence. Solitude is more than being alone and quiet during prayer time and bible study. It is more than walking alone in the woods, savoring a favorite hideaway, and seeking isolation to escape the cares of the world. It is more than the relaxation from stress you desire on a beautiful and well-needed vacation.
Solitude is a sacred place of silence where God has access to our inner being and soul. The desert fathers and mothers of the 4th and 5th centuries retreated to the wilderness not to necessarily withdraw from society, but to locate to a place without the distractions where they could focus intensely on the presence and love of God. They soon discovered it wasn’t the location that was the problem. (Mystics see Beyond this World)
The real issue was they had to escape themselves. The problem is within us, not from our outside surroundings. Imagine the number of people who went to the desert and then departed proclaiming, “I am leaving this god-forsaken dry, dusty desert heat! This place is no man’s land!”
The solitude and contemplative silence are about self-denial and dying to your will and plans. Silence is an invitation for the presence of God to occupy and reside in our hearts and mind. Silence intentionally works at dethroning the thoughts of the fallen self and flesh by continually releasing and letting go of them.
For me, it was the passageway where I could listen to God. I worked at displacing every intrusive thought that was opposed to His will. In the silence, my contemplative mind practices the awareness of the resurrected Christ living in me. The prayer of my heart seeks to live moment by moment in obedience to the will of the Father. Solitude is more than a place. It is a sacred space for the spirit of God and man to dwell joined heart to heart. The solitude and contemplative silence are the journeys of the soul into an eternal destination with the Divine.
It is essential to understand that our rational reason and thinking do not perceive the contemplative mind and solitude. It is a gift of God where His life invades our lives, and we find out we live in union with the eternal One of the universe as we exchange our experience for His Life. The practice of solitude and contemplative prayer (The Goal of Contemplative Prayer) is life-transforming.