Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Peace, Quiet, and Solitude

Over at The Missal, Jack G finds himself home alone for the first time in years, when the rest of the family is away for several days. And he has an interesting meditation on rediscovering peace and quiet:
It had been so long since I had really been by myself that I had almost entirely forgotten what it was like to be in solitude, how different it is than having others around you, and how utterly beneficial it is from time to time to be alone. Completely alone and without the company of other people.

It took me awhile to adjust, but once I began to remember what solitude was like, and how much I could do (or not do as the case might be) I took as much advantage out of the situation as I possibly could. I think the best thing about solitude, in my case anyway, is that since I live so far out in the country, and since so much open land surrounds my home and estate, that aside from the occasional dog-bark, I could by simply killing the power to any form of distraction make it entirely silent... could surround myself in silence. Could suppress the din until I could hear nothing but the wind, nothing but my own breathing and heartbeat, nothing but the crickets at night, or the thunder on the approaching storm. It is almost indescribable how good it is to be able to enforce silence whenever you wish.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my family, more than mere words can express, and enjoy their company; again more than speaking will tell... however it has been so many years since I was completely separated from them, that is, when no member of my family has been around me, and so many years since I have been in total solitude that I had almost forgotten what it was to be entirely by myself. Alone. And I had forgotten how good it is to be alone, how refreshing... I have remembered over the past few days why so many monks and hermits have sought solitude like a treasure-hoard and have spoken of it as a rare and precious gift of God, which is to be pursued when possible. It makes one efficient, relaxed, calm, and peaceful. It makes one unhurried and appreciative of life, it allows one to recreate, to organize one's thoughts, to master the mind, attend the body, and to physic the soul. It reminds you that today is today, that hours can be long and fulfilling when not consumed with countless diversionary tasks and pointless distractions, that solitude helps to unmeasure the measure which compresses and shortens our lives by flooding them with minutiae.
Living alone in a big old house on a gravel road far out into the countryside, I know how Jack feels. There really is something to the peace and quiet that comes with solitude, a power that wells up out of the heart of silence.

Out here, at times, large trucks or farm machinery will go rumbling by, and then the house rattles and quakes. Apart from that, all is still. I can go most of the day without speaking a word. No radio on, no TV. Peace. Stillness. Relaxed, calm, and peaceful indeed.


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