When Porter visited, he delighted in the gardens and discovered a hidden area within the Young’s Weeping Birch, Chamaecyparis ‘Green Arrow’, a Japanese maple, and various perennials, that he called his Fortress of Solitude. Of course, we adults marveled at his choice of words and instinct for the concept, and we also caught his excitement.
While a hermit is assumed to live in varying degrees of extrinsic and intrinsic solitude, solitude is a “place” where everyone ought to have at least a daily visit. Solitude is a blanket for the soul that keeps it warmly alive, secure, comforted and bolstered throughout all of life’s vicissitudes.
What is solitude? Solitude is the state or situation of being alone. Solitude is not loneliness even if we can feel alone in a room full of people. Solitude does not cause loneliness unless we fear being alone or do not comprehend how beneficial to have solitude. Very few are called to the eremitic (hermit) life, but all of us are called to at least some solitude, and best to have a daily dose for the health of our bodies, minds, hearts and souls.
Joyful Hermit admits that learning to live the eremitic life is challenging as a life calling. Learning to live in solitude as a means of quieting the soul and focusing on praying for others, for the world, is a gradual process. But each of us should designate some time and a place for solitude each day. Maybe it is driving to work alone and in silence, or going into a room and closing the door for five minutes, asking others to honor the solitude. We might get up in the night and spend time alone in another part of the house, or go out for a walk–but alone and away from others, including the sounds of others via tech tools.
While the benefits and varieties of some type and time of daily solitude are not often considered, even the cultural-religious aspect of going into one’s inner room to pray led to the practice of pulling a prayer stole or hood over the head in order to create a closed-off space to pray. But we have always the examples of children who have not yet lost the innate, natural tendency of what is healthy and holy. They remind us that a little solitude invigorates and refreshes us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Did you ever like to play in a closet, under a stairwell, in the basement or attic? Did you find solitude in a fort or tree house, or under your bed, or make a tent with your bedding in which to create a place all your own? Or perhaps you discovered that nature provides any number of solitary opportunities.
Let our thoughts turn to what unique, natural, contrived or ordinary niche can become our very own Fortress of Solitude. Alone time is good time, and our Fortress of Solitude creates a holy space. Discover peace for the soul in the silence of solitude.