Image via Timothy Denney, Mt Dana, Yosemite National Park
“Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.” ―
That it is. When we get into a wilder space we can finally slow down our speed and our thoughts, turn inward, and regain serenity and equilibrium. This is possible anywhere we can find a natural space and, if possible, natural silence. Space, silence, and time make a great recipe for solitude Author Rob Schultheis wrote, “... there’s a silent voice in the wilderness that we hear only when no one else is around. When you go far, far beyond, out across the netherlands of the Known, the din of human static slowly fades away, over and out.”
How do we plan for solitude, for the experience of wilderness? First, we put it on the calendar and make it the highest priority for that time period, whether one day or many. For me, I put time-frames aside on my calendar and make them as important a calendar priority as a wedding in the family or a job for me in another city. The shortest is usually three days, and the longest is usually in the fourteen day range. Some are wilderness experiences, but some cannot be due to the unforgiving nature of winters on the northern plains. For those I will be going to settings that are accessible year-round and not in a busy environment.
Disclaimer: Currently I am self-employed with no set business hours during which I need to be present each day. This means I can take a couple of weekdays to make a four-day weekend. That makes it easier for me than for many. It has not always been this way. My business is two-years old. Prior to this I had a career-oriented job (a “real job” as my friends like to say), but I still did the solitude thing daily, and solitude trips several times each year. They tended to be two- or three-day events with an occasional longer trip thrown in.
Mount Abbott, and Bear Creek Spire viewed from Mono Pass, 2017
What will happen at the solitude location? I really don’t know how these unfold until I am there, and then only on a day-by-day basis. I have found that the best way to design a solitude retreat is to let the Holy Spirit guide you through the circumstance of each day. He knows what is best for us every day, and desires to guide us to that best. And He will, if we are in the habit of listening for and responding to His leading. My experience has been that if I over-plan the retreat, I am in control and not the Spirit. I will get mostly what I have, which is not enough and not the purpose. I want what the Spirit is planning and must yield to Him in the details of the day.”
Here are some recommendations:
- Determine that you will spend time alone in solitude however you can find it. Invest significant time talking with your God and listening. Walk and talk. Sit and talk. Enjoy a view and talk. Read and talk. Rest and talk. Do not make it about praying a grocery list of requests. Like a good friend, He just wants to spend time with you.
- Always take a journal and use it. Journal for your daily solitude times to get the hang of it, and never stop the journal habit.
- If it fits you and the environment, study the scriptures without a “curriculum.” Ask the Spirit to teach you, for Jesus promised the Spirit would guide us into truth. Read, then wait for Him to fill your heart. Journal your findings.
- Bring a good, deeper-life book. Read it when you are not doing something else on this list. Journal your findings. Read Tozer, Juan Carlos Ortiz, John Eldredge, Watchman Nee, Brother Lawrence.
- Don’t bring a TV or other video device. Don’t listen to tunes. Don’t bring games or fiction books. Don’t make it a sight-seeing trip. If you have been living on a diet of entertainment, the withdrawal will be significant. But go with it and learn to experience God alone.