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restorative solitude

January 31, 2012

The children are in bed and my husband is out for a run.

I sit here by the fire and breathe…


…and I sigh aloud “quiet solitude”.

I remember a younger me who would have felt lonely on an evening like tonight. This younger me began a great journey of growth when she discovered:

Henri Nouwen‘s book, “Reaching out: The three movements of the spiritual life“.

The movement from loneliness to quiet solitude was something I never thought I would EVER develop. It has happened…though I am not quite sure when or how. All I do know is that Nouwen’s words have stuck with me for more than a decade and I think his writings are timeless and I revisit them often. Tonight I reached for this treasure and wanted to share one paragraph with you all tonight, it is found on pg. 38:

“By attentive living we can learn the difference between being present in loneliness and being present in solitude. When you are alone in an office, a house or an empty waiting room, you can suffer from restless loneliness but also enjoy quiet solitude. When you are teaching in a classroom, listening to a lecture, watching a movie or chatting a a “happy hour,” you can have the unhappy feeling of loneliness but also the deep contentment of someone who speaks, listens and watches from the tranquil center of [her] solitude. It is not too difficult to distinguish between the restless and the restful, between the driven and the free, between the lonely and the solitary in our surroundings. When we live with a solitude of heart, we can listen with attention to the words and the worlds of others, but when we are driven by loneliness, we tend to select just those remarks and events that bring immediate satisfaction to our own craving needs.”

While I have learned to regularly find moments of quiet solitude, I recognize that I still have room to grow in this part of my journey…but I am growing!

Today, I am thankful for discovering the restorative beauty of quiet solitude.

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