by Rosetta Del Monte
Henri Nowen in The Way of the Heart says without silence the spirit cannot grow. “Solitude is difficult for many people, because they don’t know what to do in the solitude. Most of us are used to being very busy and prductive but in solitude we seem to do nothing. For those who have used productivity as the basis for their self-worth this becomes a drastic if not radical departure from their way of living. But in solitutde we are not completely alone, Christ is with us, and we are deepening our relationship with him.
We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone. Our primary task in solitude, therefore, is not to pay undue attention to the many faces which assail us, but to keep the eyes of our mind and heart on him who is our Divine Saviour. Only in the context of grace can we face our sin, only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a single minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature.
Solitude is thus a place of purification and transformation, the place of the great struggle and the great encounter. Solitude is not simply a means to an end. Solitude is its own end. It is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world. It is the place where we want to lead all who are seeking the light in this dark world.”
A friendship with God is the starting point for being an “alongsider” to someone.
Bill Mowry in The Ways of the Alongsider says that whether you’re a beginner or a frequent companion, we all need to refresh our times of solitude with the Father. He speaks of ways to re-charge your times with God:
- Try a different perspective—reading from a different translation gives a different perspecitve to the Scriptures. The Message by Eugene Peterson for example is a good paraphrase.
- Pray a Psalm for the particular day. Read it aloud. Read it meditatively.
- Take time to sing along with your praise CD.
- Use your imagination as a form of meditating. Picture yourself standing with Elijah or joining the disciples at the last supper. What would you hear, taste, small, touch, or see?
- Paint a picture. Illustrate a passage in a picture. Don’t worry if it’s just stick figures. 🙂
- Take a walk or hike. Walk and pray. As you walk, thank God for the different body parts that you are using. Praise him for his creation.
- Do it together. Spend time with the person you are coming alongside. Pray together and then discuss the Scripture. Another person’s insights can be a rich source of motivation.