Solitude: Source of refreshment for the soul

Published 6:15 am Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I may be writing this for myself, because I am a bona fide Type A person. I’m always engaged in some activity, making lists to check off, my mind constantly engaged in problem-solving or accomplishing some goal — pretty much from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. And worthy things do get done for church, family and job. But there is a potential cost to all this in the form of exhaustion and burn out, unless you take time and get away to a quiet place and be still for a little while.

Jesus knew of this. He was constantly bombarded with crowds of people with needs they wanted him to meet. So he “went out and departed to a solitary place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). He also instructed his Disciples about it: “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31).

“Be still” in the Bible comes from the Hebrew term “raphah,” which refers to going slack, or to let drop. Solitary places are logically the best location to “not do” for a while. We are blessed in our area with lots of places that provide solitude: mountains, forests, rivers, parks and trails. Going to natural places gives you the opportunity to listen to the birds, to think about your surroundings and not some task. Wildflowers, chipmunks, tree bark — just be in the moment.

Email newsletter signup

Solitude can be restful to the mind, body and spirit. Enjoying nature usually leads me to a feeling of gratitude to the creator of it all, and so the verse “be still, and know that I am God” becomes a reality. And with a quiet mind you may end up in a meaningful conversation with God. Jesus did some of his most important praying in quiet places.

Living in a rush and being connected to the world with phones and computers is now the norm. When we are forced to be still at the doctor’s office or waiting in line, we get antsy and need to find something to do. We have a hard time shutting the brain off. And solitude is not easy for some and can be perceived as boring or threatening. But, let me encourage you to try it, even if it’s in your backyard for a few minutes. It is a source of refreshment for the soul.

Steve Roark is a retired area forester from Tazewell, Tennessee.