Solitude greeting solitude, that's what community is all about. Community is not the place where we are no longer alone but the place where we respect, protect, and reverently greet one another's aloneness. When we allow our aloneness to lead us into solitude, our solitude will enable us to rejoice in the solitude of others. Our solitude roots us in our own hearts. Instead of making us yearn for company that will offer us immediate satisfaction, solitude makes us claim our center and empowers us to call others to claim theirs. Our various solitudes are like strong, straight pillars that hold up the roof of our communal house. Thus, solitude always strengthens community.
I'm often struck by how often we misunderstand solitude, and the call to solitude in the contemplative heart. Not just "the world" but most of us in the church as well. Solitude is not opposed to community: it is essential for true community, just as contemplation is not opposed to intercession, but is essential for intercession's growth, from an attempt at magic to real and costly prayer.