In solitude, we come to know the Spirit who has already been given to us. The pains and the struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings.

The discipline of solitude allows us gradually to come in touch with this hopeful presence of God in our lives, and allows us also to taste even now the beginnings of the joy and peace which belong to the new heaven and the new earth.

The discipline of solitude, as I have described it here, is one of the most powerful disciplines in developing a prayerful life. It is a simple, though not easy, way to free us from the slavery of our occupations and our preoccupations and to begin to hear the voice that makes all things new.

Reflection question:

How has God’s Spirit spoken to you through these insights from Henri Nouwen and his reflections on the Bible? What will be your next step in growing in the practice of solitude as you learn to live a more prayerful life?