“You just cannot immerse yourself in the world and be carried away by it; that is no salvation.” – Thomas Merton
Solitude does not mean being alone, strictly speaking. Solitude is not a bad thing. Solitude can mean being by yourself, but in that, you are also with God and others in a way that matters dearly. The fruit of true solitude is true intimacy. Once one encounters true solitude, then the solitude at the center of every other person, place, and thing is known, loved, and respected. You can only know and respect another’s solitude by knowing and respecting your own.
Solitude is not a running away. Solitude is not an evasion. It may begin that way, as an act of self-preservation, but it must not remain there. True solitude always brings a graceful encounter with reality as it is; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Solitude is not escapism.
Everyone needs time alone. Some of us fear it. Some of us seek it. What matters is that we make time for it and allow it to transform our lives. We are solitary beings who live in community. Without true solitude there can be no true community, because no one knows who is loving who.