I watched a report yesterday about a man who spends the winter as a caretaker in Yellowstone National Park. He lives alone, works alone most of the winter, and says that solitude is an “opportunity for self-knowledge, reflection”. While I don’t think most of us would be willing to spend months or even weeks alone, I do think we need to inject some brief periods of solitude into our day. We need time for quiet thought and meditation. We need to be out of the noise and chaos of the world long enough to reflect on our actions and emotions. That’s one of the reasons why I get up at 4am.
Psalms 19:14 says “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Well, it’s difficult to have any meditation, pleasing or otherwise, if you are constantly bombarded with the sights and sounds of the world around you. If you listen to music, watch television, play video games, connect on FB, and talk to people 24/7 your brain doesn’t have time to process anything except the most basic ideas and most pressing problems.
While I’m not one of those “ohmmmmm” devotees, mostly because I can’t sit on the floor, I do agree with the discipline of setting aside some time each day to just think. As I said, I do some of my thinking early in the morning. I also decided a few years ago that I would stop listening to the radio while driving. I avoid meditating to the point of being a traffic hazard, but I do find my daily commute is a good time to make plans and to reflect on my actions each day.
Yes, I know most of you have much busier lives than mine. You have spouses and children and parents and co-workers demanding your time and attention. I sympathize with those of you who have small children. But even the busiest lives have a few moments here and there that could offer solitude and solace if you embrace the idea that anything you do to improve your own health and happiness will also benefit those you love. Quiet thought. Meditation. Reflection. Solitude. Even small doses can make a big difference.