solitude: Red Letter Challenge

Is there something wrong with me? I read “solitude” and my first thought is Superman.

Specifically, I think about Superman’s base of operations, his retreat…The Fortress of Solitude.

I’ve written about Superman before and even this idea of being alone and isolated. (you can check out my other Superman thoughts here and here and here) It’s a pretty big part of who he is. Orphaned from his family when his planet blows up and gifted extraordinary powers which set him apart from nearly every other living being, Superman’s middle name is solitude. So, if anyone has a right to name his home the Fortress of Solitude, it’s Clark.

I’m painting solitude as a bit sad. I’ve suggested solitude is what happens when you lose your people and are set apart by choice or circumstance. For the “better together” guy, solitude isn’t at the top of my “what do you want to do tonight” list.

But this is an incomplete picture.

When Jesus withdraws, he seeks out solitude. What? There must be something valuable about getting away and being alone. Perhaps something I too should seek out?

Solitude, even for Superman, can be where one retreats to recharge. It can be the experience which brings the importance of relationships into focus. It could be the opportunity to examine life with less noise and distraction.

Okay, all of that sounds good to me. It’s the doing it that gets sticky. I like some “me time,” but this isn’t that. At least, it isn’t what Jesus was about.

No, for Jesus solitude was ultimately relational. How’s that work? I’m thinking solitude then isn’t about escaping from the world so much as it is about creating space for us to recognize and be with God.

Turns out we don’t need an ice fortress to enjoy this solitude, we just need the willingness to include retreat into our regular rhythms. We can practice solitude. A walk around the neighborhood. A trip to the basement couch. A commute without the radio or a phone call. Alone time with God is what we’re after. Solitude doesn’t really mean being alone after all, it means withdrawing so the ultimate relationship gets all our attention.

At least until we have to reengage with the waiting world because we don’t get to stay in the Fortress forever. There’s people who need us out there.

Life is better together,
Shawn

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