Sacred Solitude

I received a book for Christmas that had to do with sacred places.  It provided beautiful pictures and commentary on places that various religious groups consider to be sacred.  A common theme that emerged for me was that of the monastery.  The word monastery means a place to be alone.

As I reflected on this I was struck at how all of my most important spiritual experiences have happened when I was alone.  I thought of Christ fasting for 40 days prior to his ministry.  I also thought of Joseph Smith going into the woods to pray.  Yet, there does not seem to be much if any emphasis in Mormonism on a sacred solitude that I can see.  Christianity and many other religious traditions have their monks and whatnot spending long periods of time in silence and alone in order to achieve some type of enlightenment.

Mormonism on the other hand seems to forever stress a gathering of the saints.  We have all kinds of meetings, home and visiting teaching, family night, etc., but other than a rare mention of pondering, we really do not encourage much on the lines of a sacred solitude.  Ours is a very social gospel.

I often long for alone time, and enjoy finding ways to be by myself to just think.  Is there a value in such alone time?  Should the church encourage and enable such experience?  Is there more encouragement for this type of alone time in Mormonism than I am seeing?   If some of the most important, sacred, spiritual events have happened to people when they were alone, should we not encourage more sacred solitude?

8 Responses to “Sacred Solitude”

  1. 1 Aaron December 31, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I often used to go to a protestant chapel a few blocks from my office. It was always open, always quiet, I could sit there as long as I liked or needed. I agree that we don’t have such sanctuaries in our church — neither our chapels or our temples really fill that role. So I most often turn to nature.

  2. 3 Spektator January 1, 2011 at 6:35 am

    I would suggest that seeking Christ in solitude is critical to our salvation. We read in 3 Nephi 12 that, while the priesthood leadership of the church is responsible for our baptism of water, it is Christ who will baptize us with fire and the Holy Ghost. I strongly believe that we must create our own ‘sacred grove’ in order to petition the Lord for this rite of entry. We read in 2 Nephi 31:17=18 that this is the gate to the strait and narrow path.

    It is not something that we can get through attending any meeting. The church is like a bus that can take you part way up the mountain. To reach the summit, as we are all told we must do, we must get out of the bus and hike up the rest of the way on our own two spiritual feet.

  3. 4 Eric Nielson January 1, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Great comment Spektater.

  4. 5 Jettboy January 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I want you to know that I have enjoyed reading your blog and have included it in My personal list of Faithful blogs. Thank you.

  5. 7 chococatania January 10, 2011 at 12:49 am

    interesting idea – the social nature of our religion. However, i feel like my testimony has grown in the quiet times at church -during sacrament meeting – when I can listen to the speakers – and when the Spirit takes their message to my heart.

    I especially feel spiritual growth through temple attendance. In my mind, it is a very solitary experience – even if you go with someone else. The temple is such a quiet and sacred place.

    Otherwise, I do feel like we have to take time to have spiritual experiences. i love the concept of a “wrestle before God.” – both enos and alma mention this idea. This is such a personal experience, and usually comes through scripture study and prayer – which are very solitary experiences.

    the thing is – we have to take the time to make these experiences take place in our lives, and unlike other religions (buddhist monks, etc) these experiences are available to all, rather than a few who have decided to cut their lives off from everyone and everything else. We can all have amazing experiences with God – even when we’re living our “normal lives”…

    anyways – this is the first time i’ve checked out your blog. thanks for the food for thought, and for the reminder to take some quiet time for myself – so i can receive personal revelation. 🙂

  6. 8 Eric Nielson January 10, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Thanks and welcome chococatania.

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