“In that desert solitude, Jesus fasted for more than a month. Then, and not before, Satan was allowed to approach him with his glittering proposals of bread, notoriety, and power. Only then was Jesus at the height of his strength. The desert was his fortress, his place of power.”
— Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines
Jesus can be seen as so other-than what we would often expect him to be in the flesh. We imagine him weakened in the desert solitude. Yet, the Spirit led him there to be strengthened in his solitude before the Tempter could tempt him.
In our busy age, where we have distraction upon distraction to disrupt our spiritual continuity, we have lost the art of deriving strength, joy, and effectiveness from the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude. There is much to be gained, then.
Being Strengthened By Solitude
These are some of the practices I engage in:
1. Walk instead of drive: for short trips, where I have the time, or make the time, I prefer to walk than drive (up to an hour’s walk). I don’t pray intentionally, but find myself praying along the way, as the Spirit leads me via the thoughts I am meditating on. I tend to be always thinking on my relationships.
2. Find respite in nature: I hadn’t discovered the wonders of nature until relatively late, and it’s not just about sunrises and sunsets. There is the wonder in urban nature just as much as rural. There is wonder everywhere when we open the eyes of our hearts to what God is showing us. The insects, the age of buildings, the history in a road, and the wonder of a scene at a beach 200 years ago... images flood the mind.
3. Solitude speaks into our relationships: by being by ourselves the Spirit speaks into our hearts regarding where our relationships are at. We find ourselves confessing to God and agreeing on plans of repentance. When we do this design work of confession, through repentance we come alive.
4. Observe your own body: not narcissistically, but when we study a leg or an arm, and we imagine what that leg or arm has been through over the course of our lives, God begins tipping in his wondrous revelation. We let the Spirit lead us, and I am always amazed as to where I find myself having studied such an innate part of me.
I am opting to leave it there; it’s not about copying somebody else’s method as much as it’s about venturing with God ourselves, and letting the Spirit lead us. We will find our own unique practices to be strengthened in our solitude.
There is great strength to be derived from solitude. But it takes faith to invest.
There’s strengthening in solitude,
We hardly imagine why,
But then we invest in silence,
And we find our spirits fly.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.