The Gifts of Solitude

By slowly converting our loneliness into a deep solitude, we create that precious space where we can discover the voice telling us about our inner necessity–that is, our vocation. Unless our questions, problems and concerns are tested and matured in solitude, it is not realistic to expect answers that are really our own…This is a very difficult task because in our world we are constantly pulled away from our innermost self and encouraged to look for answers instead of listening to the questions. A lonely person has no inner time or inner rest to wait and listen. She wants answers and wants them here and now. But in solitude we can pay attention to the inner self. This has nothing to do with egocentrism or unhealthy introspection because, in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “what is going on in your inner most being is worthy of your whole love.” In solitude we can become present to ourselves…There we can also become present to others by reaching out to them, not greedy for attention or affection but offering our own selves to help build a community of love. Solitude does not pull us away from other human beings but instead makes supportive and sustaining community possible.


adapted from
Henri J. M. Nouwen
You are the Beloved