I read a beautiful article on the art of solitude yesterday, and was reminded of the sweet hours I once spent sitting on the porch of the conference center of the camp I attended, tea steaming, swallows dancing on the dawn-gray air, Bible open on my lap. Mornings in a cabin full of girls were not peaceful, nor conducive to my patience or joy as their cabin leader, so I would rise in the dark, get ready quietly, and wake the most responsible girl in the cabin before I headed out the door and over the hill. The woods were just waking up as I walked to the conference center, the light changing to pink as I sipped my tea and looked out over the field and the pond and the distant mountains.
The mornings are cold in the Rockies, even in midsummer. Many days, I could see my breath coming in short puffs as I hiked up the steep hill from Cabin 5, the crunch of my shoes on the gravel road the only sound to be heard. The dew that fell occasionally when the temperature dropped into the 40s encouraged the mule deer out into the thickets of tall grass and brambles that marked the edge of the hill down to the pond. Early summer meant fawns, still spotted and tenuous, staying close to their serene, unhurried mothers; the adults were used to seeing us, and only ran if we hurried close to them.
Those mornings, I practiced solitude out of necessity, and loved each quiet moment with the Lord in the chill morning air. Now, too often, I fear it. I fear the silence of my room. I fear my upcoming 26th birthday -- an acute reminder of just how many evenings I have spent alone, and how many more I fear will be spent alone. I have failed to differentiate between solitude and loneliness. Pray for me, friends, as I work out what it means to be still in the presence of God, to think His thoughts after Him in the quiet of the end of the day.