Part of the design and purpose of Lent is for us to turn down the noise in our lives so that we can more clearly see and hear God. In turn, part of the purpose of that is so that we can come to terms with possible areas of brokenness and rebellion in ourselves that we need to bring before God in order to get His help.
For better or for worse, this often means getting—and remaining—alone. Sometimes this can be literal (retreating into silence and solitude) while other times this can be more symbolic (such as keeping a private fast).
Most of our culture is trained to treat “aloneness” as something bad, to be resisted and avoided.
We can check messages, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., for the constant reassurance that others are “with us” (thought it often seems as if they are living such extravagant and exciting lives online, while our life is just humdrum and boring).
We are constantly pushed and pulled to “never be out of touch.”
And yet, part of this “being-in-touchedness” is the very thing that is holding back our growth. From seeing the reality of who we are and who God wants us to be.
Being alone is not bad. Far from it, “alone” is exactly the remedy for our hyper-connected, hyper-active world that we inhabit.
There is a saying of the Desert Fathers, that one day someone came to Abba Moses to get a word (of wisdom? of assurance? of connectedness?). Abba Moses said to the man, “Go sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.”
There are two aspects to this:
- Your “cell” (silence, solitude, and various ways of being alone) is necessary for you to hear the word you need through the noise of your life. Trust me; this is true. What we think are the answers to our questions are more often than not tapes that we play (from our brokenness, from our upbringing, etc.) in our heads, or they are just glittering images from culture that attract our eyes and ears.
- Being alone is often remarkably clarifying in regards to what we think we need the answers to. We get consumed with anxiety, with the desire to know (which is really just the desire to control). So many times, space apart—again, being alone—reveals that we really actually don’t need the answers we thought we did.
“Alone” is a healthy rhythm of life. Embrace it and cultivate it.