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 centre 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.
(from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey )
Back from Hilfield, things are becoming clearer. It's in many ways wonderful to be back in my own church community, from the very different community that is the Friary. It's strange, but loner that in so many ways I am, I just love living in community. I was thinking this morning about how to express this seeming paradox, when I found this quote from Henri Nouwen that summed it up perfectly.
It's obvious that I need both discipline and simplicity to follow the deepening call to prayer and service that seems to have overtaken me. Discipline in the sense of living according to a framework of time, just as a religious community does, with its hours, its times of work and meals and recreation. Simplicity in the sense of trimming away what I am not called to do, and giving myself wholeheartedly that those things that I am. It sounds obvious, but I find that when I examine, mindfully, the patterns of my own life, there are far too many things that just get in the way, and I shall have to see what I would be better off without!
Over the next few weeks, I shall be making a few changes to my online life, too. I think I shall have to abandon Facebook and Twitter. They are good things in themselves, but they are a fierce waste of time unless you actually need them for the way you work. I shall also have to go on a geek diet, probably. I waste loads of time mucking around researching things I don't need to research, playing with software I've no practical need for, and many more things like that. It's got to stop. God has more use for me than that, strange as it may seem - especially to me!
This blog is good and important, though, and I shall continue to write here, perhaps in rather more depth than I often have. The old place is looking a bit tired and scruffy, too, so I'll try and smarten things up a bit...
Huge thanks, by the way, to all who prayed for me on this trip. Your prayers were answered, and then some, as I'll hope to explain here over the next few posts...