This post continues my reflections on Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of the Disciplines. Here, I look at two disciplines of abstinence that are critical to our entry into the deeper life with God are solitude and silence.
Solitude is our intentional choice to step away from interaction with others, whether in person or in other forms of communication. Solitude is abstaining from companionship. Jesus did this throughout his life, as the gospels attest. We read about his practice most pointedly in Luke 4-5, where, after a jam-packed days of ministry to others, he draws away.
At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place (4:42).
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayer (5:16).
In The Spirit of the Disciplines Dallas Willard says: “Of all the disciplines of abstinence, solitude is generally the most fundamental in the beginning of the spiritual life, and it must be returned to again and again as that life develops” (161).
Solitude is a place to explore our isolation from others, to cling to Christ, and to be strengthened for His service.
As you might expect, silence is the discipline whereby we step away from sound. In a culture that is sound-saturated, from iPods to noisy traffic, it is important for us to set aside time apart from the external clutter of sounds.
It is amazing how infrequently we experience quiet. Even the places and times that we describe as quiet, we are often saturated with ambient noise.
This discipline clearly connects with the discipline of solitude. We choose to not only be alone, but to be alone without speaking and in a place of quiet.
Silence is a place where we return to God for our reassurance and approval.
What is your experience of solitude and silence as means for connecting more deeply with God?