The Power of solitude … and Social Connection

Awhile ago, Eric Blauer blogged this:

“Of this there is no doubt, our age and Protestantism 
 in general may need the monastery again, or wish it 
 were there. ‘The Monastery’ is an essential dialectical 
 element in Christianity. We therefore need it out there 
 like a navigation buoy at sea in order to see where we 
 are, even though I myself would not enter it. But if 
 there really is true Christianity in every generation, 
 there must also be individuals who have this need. […]”
  —Kierkegaard’s Papers and Journals:  A Selection,
 translated and edited by Alastair Hannay, 
 47 VIII I A 403, pg. 275

in response to something I had written him. In turn, that prompted me to write the following.


The monastery in its essence has always been there.  At least in its original, unpolluted version of time in solitude with God, it has always been accessible. The solitude of walks with God in nature, the quiet seclusion in which we hear and see, is closer than most think.

In fact, we are invited to find it by waiting:

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew [their] strength; they shall
mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and]
they shall walk, and not faint” Isaiah 40:31

“… in quietness and in confidence
shall be your strength …” excerpted from Isaiah 30:15

Which my walk has combined to:

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their quietness and confidence”

The monastery, as an ideal, is flawed. In pursuit of this ideal, a culture is robbed. For it is fundamentally wrong to view communion and union with a mate, interaction with the world, and social flow as distractions from a deeper walk with God. Acted upon as a model for spiritual depth, such views lead to an impoverished life, an impoverished culture.

Yet the simple, solitary walk with God is a powerful experience leading to deep insights and fresh originality. Spiritually, creatively, we are drawn to the greatest depths by an existence constantly moving between a walk with God and a walk with others.

The monastery impulse, stripped down, reduced to its essence of deep communion with God, is a powerfully transformative impulse. Enlarged by communion with others, it grows generous. Freed from the burden and unnatural restrictions of tradition, it becomes the source of such a rich profusion of creativity and connection that observers are constrained to recognize that something extraordinary is at work.

In such an atmosphere, where love and depth, generosity and creativity flow freely, no arguments are needed to persuade others that we have good news, for it is self evident.

Who we are becomes the only argument we ever need.