I remember my last day in the States. I ran past the White House and paused for a selfie with the caption, “Peace out, USA. See you Christmas morning.” I called my intended five months of travel on five continents … Continue reading
I didn’t come here looking for God, and these cathedrals at times felt like both a haven and an inferno. I was once scolded by a priest for taking communion, given the firm instruction that I was not welcome to … Continue reading
There was a bird outside my window this morning
Happily chirping its song; its story.
Another one joined in.
I’m not sure what they were saying
But I felt like their language spoke to my soul
Reminding me to go outside today
And spend some time in solitude.
So that’s what I did.
I zipped up my snow boots
And hit the trails
Climbing up powdered white paths
Sparkling like sugar cookies
In the mid-afternoon sun.
I glanced down at footprints of deer
And footprints of other hikers
Wondering what their journeys are like
And how they experience the world around them.
Sometimes I feel guilty going places alone.
Life is short
And people are beautiful, after all.
A couple years ago
I moved back to Baltimore
And within a few months, realized most of my friends had moved home or moved away
And I had a night
Where the few friends I had left
Were all busy
And I felt an immense loneliness come over me.
It was a cold, dark January evening and Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder
can be more than SAD; it can be depressing.
I was so lonely inside; I scared myself.
Have you ever had a moment like that?
Where you’re so caught off guard by what’s going on inside?
I did the one thing that I thought might help.
I called an old friend in New York just to make sure I was alive and breathing.
Luckily she answered.
She was out with friends
And I think she thought I was acting a little melodramatic
But never the less
A few words
From an old friend
On a lonely night
Melted away tears of despondency
And I vowed to never get that lonely ever again.
That was two years ago.
I’m thankful for new friends who’ve touched my heart
and for old ones who’ve stuck it out.
Although as a recovering people-pleaser and conflict avoider,
There are times when it would be much easier to keep inside my shell;
I’ve come to realize that people, community, are absolutely essential to personal growth,
apart from which my soul would deaden bit by bit.
But sometimes I don’t want to talk
And sometimes I need to be alone in my thoughts,
Staring at vast skies like open pages.
I need to lie on my back
Let the grass be my pillow
And take pictures of the sun sinking behind open fields.
In my calmest of moments,
I need only to be outside and sit there;
Doing nothing particular at all.
So I’ll sit on my front porch
While crickets sing to evening stars
And I’ll stare at the moon
Wondering what the moon sees when it stares at us.
All of this connects me back to the world around me
To God, to people, to the shifting Earth upon which we stand.
And all of this makes me realize
That solitude is an indispensable part of life
For wallflowers and social butterflies alike.
That solitude isn’t selfish
But creates room enough to embrace resonate beauty.
It disrupts the rush, the driving back and forth, the cacophony of sirens blaring through city streets.
It forces me to address the thoughts that keep resurfacing my mind
When it would be easier to keep ignoring them.
It lets me find myself under willow trees
Beside gurgling streams
That sound like the warm water
That will fill up my bathtub tonight.
It helps me find my center
Whether basking in sunshine
Or crunching in leaves,
Whistling along with the birds.
So may it be.
May we find solitude
That fills our souls
So that we are alone, but never really alone.
May we be filled with wonder
That prevents us from ever daring to think we can fully understand
This world, this beauty, the footprints and fingerprints of another.
May the birds’ song serenade you
Open paths guide you
God’s smile shine upon you
And give you peace.
How do you find solitude? What do you, not do? Where do you go? Where don’t you go? How often do you experience solitude in your life?