One more piece of found wisdom on the value of getting still and solitary: This, from Ruth Haley Barton’s Invitation to Solitude and Silence. (If you’re new to this practice, this book would be a helpful guide to help you get started.)

A friend , who was also a psychologist and a person who could give good spiritual help and guidance said to her,

“Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” 

Her response was resistance, a sense of that being impossible. 

“But even though my mind had a hard time grasping what this settling would actually be like, the image of the jar of river water captured what I knew to be true about myself. I could not avoid the realization that I was the jar of river water all shaken up and the sediment that swirled inside the jar was the busyness, the emotions, the thoughts, the inner wrestlings I had not been able to control. It was a moment of self-discovery–which is where all good spiritiual journeying begins.

“The jar of river water… also captured my longing to… be still long enough so… the waters of my soul could become clear, and I could see whatever it was that needed to be seen… I recognized an invitation to be still and know  beyond my addiction to noise, words, people and performance-oriented activity… It captured my desire for something… beyond the head knowledge that no longer [alone] sustained my soul.”

Then she says an interesting thing, especially in light of what we saw in this past post about the necessary importance of “despair” (because despair and desperation are of the same word family, are they not?): She testifies that she’d reached a point of desperation, and

“what I learned is that you stay with the feelings of desperation and let desperation do its good work. 

“As strange as it might sound, desperation is a really good thing in spiritual life. Desperation causes us to be open to radical solutions, willing to take all manner of risk in order to find what we are looking for. Desperate ones seek with an all-consuming intensity…”

“Perhaps you sense the same thing in yourself–something like desperation or desire that is creating a willingness to move beyond the familiar into uncharted territory. Pay attention to these stirrings of the soul. Rather than running from them, distracting yourself from them, or suppressing them, let the dynamics of desperation and desire do the good work of inviting you deeper into solitude and silence where the presence of God makes itself known beyond words.”

Be still and know…”