We all crave solitude at times, some breathing room to just be and escape from the world for a little while. Sometimes we need solitude to work productively, a time without the phone ringing or co-workers interrupting. Sometimes we need solitude to pray, to center ourselves and listen for God.
In the six years that I have been a parent, my children have given me many gifts, not the least of which is an increased appreciation for solitude. Full-time mothers of small children are rarely alone. You have to take your moments when you can. My spiritual director often asks me when I take time for myself. She is a mother herself so I know that she understands when I tell her that I take it when I am able, in short intervals here and there. I also tell her that I have discovered solitude can be as much a state of mind as a physical reality. I do greatly value time alone, but sometimes that just isn't possible. At those times, I can quiet my heart and mind amidst the chaos that surrounds me. I can offer a silent prayer and reconnect with God. I can rediscover the peace that lies within.
There is a "room of one's own" that exits within the very center of each of us. It is there can we be alone with God, stripped of all the roles and responsibility that we are required to take on in life. We can take off the masks that we wear to impress or be accepted by others or to protect ourselves from pain. We can be who we truly are. God knows all our secrets, our desires, and our dreams. God knows our sinfulness and our pain. In the beautiful words of the psalmist,
"Yahweh, you examine me and know me,
you know when I sit, when I rise,
you understand my thoughts from afar.
you watch when I walk or lie down,
you know every detail of my conduct" (Psalm 139:1-3)
The God who knows us and loves us better than we know and love ourselves is waiting for us to meet Him in the quiet of our hearts. Embrace the solitude that lies within. Even when your physical circumstances don't allow you to get away and escape the noise and the demands of life, you can carve out moments to revel in the peace and tranquility that come from God.