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?