“Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous— to poetry,” -Sherry Turkle. It has happened to me so often that from long hikes or just unplanned moments by myself for a longer period of time in the wilderness, things begin to flow like a spring of living water coming out from us. It’s a process and it must be tended to and protected. It is special to have these moments with God, where we allow the gift of imagination to rest and connect with the limitlessness of God’s heart.
For my 3–hour device free reflection time, I chose to go up to a mountain range about 20 minutes from where I live. (Cohasset) The temperature drops about 10 degrees and the terrain completely changes. Deep forest of pine trees and wilderness are all around me. It’s so peaceful, yet so loud. The wind going through the pine trees sounds like ocean waves coming and going. I ask myself, “Why don’t I come out here more often?”. It takes time for the silence to engulf me fully. At first my mind is thinking of many things, such as expectations, people to see, things to do that were left undone. Could I really get away this long? Shouldn’t I be with the boys or my wife? I should be doing this or that… etc, etc. The silence in the car almost felt like it prepared me for this special moment. It felt like I was walking into a ritual of sorts, to get away with no distractions. I felt God’s delight. My inner voice felt louder than normal. I whispered things to myself.
Turkle underscored that, “when we let our focus shift away from the people and things around us, we are better able to think critically about our own thoughts, a process psychologists call meta-cognition”. I heard her warning of the dangers of living a life of constant connection. This is my tension. I experience the reality of finding myself always connecting to my phone, checking my messages, often from our work groups, making sure that I’m answering any questions and commenting on things to make my contribution, or making sure people know where I stand on something said. I feel the tension in it. Do I really need to say something? Am I saying it for other’s sake or for my sake? For how I think others might see me?
In solitude I evaluate my intentions. I believe it is there where the Holy Spirit tugs our hearts.
*Book – Turkle, S. (2016). Reclaiming conversation: The power of talk in a digital age. Penguin.