I think God is beginning to make it very clear that he wants to develop these three aspects in my life. He got my attention through a three-part lecture by Henri Nouwen on the subject. I then bought his book, The Way of the Heart, which is basically a transcript of the lectures. The more I listen to the lectures and make my way through the book, I find my heart resonating with the desire to become a person who embodies solitude, silence and prayer in this world.
There are so many great quotes that I don’t even know where to begin. But here are few that have grabbed me:
“We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone. Our primary task in solitude, therefore, is not to pay undue attention to the many faces which assail us, but to keep the eyes of our mind and heart on him who is our divine savior… As we come to realize that it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us, that he is our true self, we can slowly let our compulsions melt away and begin to experience the freedom of the children of God. And then we can look back with a smile and realize that we aren’t even angry or greedy any more.”
That last sentence kicked me in the gut. I would give virtually anything to become that kind of person!
“We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others. But with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to him in whose Name we minister.”
“Solitude is not simply a means to an end. Solitude is its own end. It is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world. Solitude is the place of our salvation. Hence, it is the place where we want to lead all who are seeking the light in this dark world.”
Speaking of St. Anthony, Nouwen says:
“St. Anthony spent twenty years in isolation. When he left it he took his solitude with him and shared it with all who came to him. Those who saw him described him as balanced, gentle, and caring. He had become so Christlike, so radiant with God’s love, that his entire being was ministry… The solitude that at first had required physical isolation had now become a quality of his heart, an inner disposition that could no longer be disturbed by those who needed his guidance.”