Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, differentiates the concepts of loneliness and solitude when writes, “Jesus calls us from loneliness to solitude. The fear of being left alone petrifies people. A new child in the neighborhood sobs to her mother, “No one ever plays with me.” A college freshman yearns for his high school days when he was the center of attention: “Now, I’m a nobody.” A business executive sits dejected in her office, powerful, yet alone. An old woman lies in a nursing home wanting to go “Home.”

I’ve met lots of elderly people over my 35 years in my visits who are just lonely. One of the common traits I find is that many of them like to leave their T.V. on all day. It gives them another voice in their house, besides their own. This is not a bad idea in my opinion, unless, as Foster writes, “our fear of being alone drives us to noise and crowds. But, loneliness or clatter are not our only alternatives. We can create an inner solitude and silence that sets us free from loneliness and fear. Loneliness is an inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment.”

We can cultivate the solitude of inner fulfillment if we have ears that listen. It starts with being still. The Psalmist said in Psalm 46:10, be still and know God. A country preacher once asked, “What is the meaning of the phrase, ‘chew on that for a while?’ In the days when your mother taught you not to speak with your mouth full, the act of chewing demanded listening, not talking.” Today would be a good day to listen in solitude to the meaning of Ecclesiastes 5:1 – 2. Yes, teach us how to listen in our solitude O Lord, and let our words be few.


Pastor Dennis