MANY years ago I lived in an isolated, mountainous area. One day I met a man who invited me to visit his house, which was above mine. As I entered his tiny cabin, I saw a sign over his door. It was in Gaelic. He translated it for me as ``Solitude without loneliness.''
He explained that he came to this cabin often each year to do the deeper study and thinking his work required. Later I learned he was an eminent scientist, awarded a Nobel Prize in physics. With his permission, I copied his sign and made a similar one to place over the door of my own home. When visitors asked the inevitable question, ``. . . but aren't you lonely up here?'' I pointed to it and explained that solitude doesn't have to be lonely--even as having many people around doesn't guarantee one will not be lonely. Solitude--a place apart within our own consciousness to pray, think, and expand our awareness of our possibilities as a reflection of God, divine Mind--is never lonely, because God is always present. While it's often helpful to take time away from the press of people in everyday life, we can find this solitude wherever we are. And, properly viewed and utilized, it can be a very busy place indeed!
Solitude in the Bible is very often symbolic of peace, not isolation. For example, in Isaiah we read: ``The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose'' (35:1).
Christ Jesus, we read in the New Testament, from time to time sought solitude in which to pray. The Gospel of Mark describes one such occasion for us: ``And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed'' (1:35).
From studying Christian Science I have learned that God is indeed Mind. All truly creative thought and its expression are the reflection of this divine Mind, God. In drawing closer to spiritual reality through prayer, we find inspiration. We recognize our divine Father-Mother God as the true source of all right ideas. And we recognize ourselves as the humble reflection of God. In these moments of revelation, solitude can serve as midwife to our inspiration. Loneliness would be impossible in such sacred moments. Such a false tone could only be a mistaken suggestion that we are always free to reject. God is never lonely. Isolation, fear, abandonment, separation, are no part of His creation. As His creation, we reflect all that God is. And Mind's creation includes intelligence, beauty, peace. In such a setting, how can His children be lonely?
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Man is not absorbed in Deity, and man cannot lose his individuality, for he reflects eternal Life; nor is he an isolated, solitary idea, for he represents infinite Mind, the sum of all substance'' (p. 259).
Solitude is our opportunity. It allows us to reach out to God in prayer, and then to listen in modesty, purity of thought, and conscious love. In this receptive mental condition we begin to see more of the spiritual reality that governs our lives. Solitude provides a wonderful time to clean out the attic of outgrown views and can be a deeply satisfying time for us, whether we find it in a city park or a country cabin. This quiet time can take place anywhere thought leads us to embrace an opportunity for true, spiritual solitude. A time for expansion not retreat, it is our own time with God.