consistent intentional solitude.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Summer is over.

The loss of solitude at the beginning was nearly instantaneous. A shocker and familiar at the same time. A living flashback to before PinkGirl started school. Kid duty every waking moment and sometimes more. Most of my prayers were short and in fragments. I seriously missed consistent, dedicated time spent with the Lord. I seriously missed the time to read. To think.

School’s been back in since Thursday and yesterday was my first day back to routine. Some quiet time, some reading, a cup of coffee in my favorite ceramic mug instead of a travel mug, a workout – I even got some work done! And now, a blog post! Even with a forgotten homework delivery and a horrendous traffic jam during after-school pick-up, this day was great! Top it off with an evening that included a flat tire for FirstHusband and needing to replace the broken lock on the front door?

No stress. No matter what happens, I handle things better after a little solitude and prayer.

I’ve said it before. There are seasons of prayer. Sometimes, my days allow for moments alone and I can choose to spend some of that time with God. Sometimes, my day barely allows for a shower and that’s the only solitude and prayer time I get. Sometimes, my day doesn’t even allow for the shower so I pray while I’m driving a kid somewhere or while I’m loading the dishwasher, cooking dinner or cleaning something.

Summer was a good reminder of what it was like when the kids were little and I had to carve out time for solitude. It was also a hearty dose of empathy for other moms in that situation right now. It was lots of fun. And lots of driving. Summer day camps for kids, sometimes with less than two hours of unfragmented time between drop off and pick-up. And those bits of time were most often spent frantically getting stuff DONE.

But Summer was a season, as were the years when I had small children at home all day, every day, and the years I spent working full-time while going to college, and the years I spent working like a crazy woman when I first started my business. I had to learn and have again been reminded that when the seasons of my life are such that my solitude and prayer time are encroached upon by my daily responsibilities, I have to do two things:

First: Not beat myself up over it, because by doing so, I waste time I could be praying and spending with God.

Second: FIND pockets of time, multitask prayer with chores that don’t need active thought, and consciously include God in my every day moments and conversations, because He is with me WHEREVER I go. (Joshua 1:9)

Thank you God for reminding me that one of the things I really need to get DONE is time alone with You. I need to actively carve it out wherever I can get it.

Lord, please bless me with an unquenchable thirst for intimate fellowship with you. Please bless me with the courage to listen to the truths your Holy Spirit reveals to me during these times of physical stillness and silence.

“To bring some solitude into our lives is one of the most necessary but also most difficult disciplines . . . As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again . . .

. . . Intuitively, we know that it is important to spend time in solitude. We even start looking forward to this strange period of uselessness. This desire for solitude is often the first sign of prayer, the first indication that the presence of God’s Spirit no longer remains unnoticed . . .

. . . As we empty ourselves of our many worries, we come to know not only with our mind but also with our heart that we never were really alone, that God’s Spirit was with us all along . . . “

The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life
by Henri Nouwen

One thought on “consistent intentional solitude.

  1. I find that early (as in 5:00 a.m.) morning is my best option for consistent intentional solitude. While initially hard to get up, once up I am grateful for the quiet and for the focus that comes. And sometimes after working for a bit, I sneak back into bed for a 20 min power nap before hitting the day straight on. Spiritual and physical restorative time–essential.

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