As a young mom, “quiet time” meant it was time for my kids to go to their rooms before one of us snapped. As a college student, I learned “quiet time” was when I went to my room—or any place that I could be alone–to have some time with God.
It’s had different names through the years—quiet time, solitude time, tiempo con Dios, daily devotional, prayer time.
Different locations–The Hilltop arboretum, the attic steps of LSU Evangeline dorm, the rocking chair of my bedroom, the bench in Parque Cachamay, the trail at Nelson Park, my swivel chair by the fireplace.
My motives have varied–
- Sometimes I practiced it out of guilt. I had to check it off my list or I wasn’t good enough.
- Sometimes I practiced it as a leverage for bargaining. Surely if I give this token part of my day then God will give me my desires.
- Other times I practiced it for pure sanity. The word “quiet” was all the motivation I needed in my all but quiet world.
- I’ve done it out of obligation—like taking my vitamins, I know it’s good for me.
- I’ve practiced it out of genuine hunger and thirst. I longed to hear God’s truths in a world full of lies. I wanted to sit in his presence.
The quality has varied—
- I’ve had seasons of consistency.
- Seasons of negligence.
- Some quiet times were rich with enlightenment and inspiration.
- Some were as stale as an old piece of toast.
- Sometimes I bored myself to sleep, other times I bored God to sleep.
- I’ve walked away renewed, frustrated, fulfilled or with lingering longings.
- My prayers overflowed to God with endless words.
- Other times I have sat speechless.
I have always thought the next season would be easier to practice the discipline…when I get out of college, when I quit work and am a stay at home mom, when my kids start school, when summer is over, when I go back to work, when the kids move out. Whatever season I’ve been in, surely the next season would be easier.
You would think that with all these years of practice that I should have mastered the discipline by now. But I’m still learning, practicing, reading books about it and practicing some more. One thing I know, it will always be important in my spiritual journey. Not so I can fulfill a checklist or earn bonus points. It’s part of my relationship with God.
My soul just needs it.
“Solitude is thus the place of purification and transformation, the place of the great struggle and the great encounter. Solitude is not simply a means to an end. Solitude is its own end. It is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world. Solitude is the place of our salvation.” Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
What has your practice of seeking God in solitude been like?