by Liana Kittle (Ohio)
In our society, when a person is “alone,” he is not truly alone.
We are constantly surrounded by and immersed in sound every day. We have become used to the constant clamoring for our attention which occurs from the moment we wake up in the morning to when we fall asleep at night.
When I first heard that solitude time was an hour and a half of silence, scheduled weekly and given a place of importance for us Semester students, I was thrilled. As an introvert, the idea of being able to get away to my own personal spot in the beautiful hills and trees around Snow Wolf Lodge seemed an answer to my anti-social prayers. However, when the first scheduled solitude time rolled around and I was informed that music and leisure reading books were banned, I quickly realized that although I often boasted to other people (and even myself) about my love for solitude, I actually liked being occupied by something while being “alone”. The struggle of sitting under a pine tree for an hour and a half soon morphed into a challenge to not check the clock on my phone every five minutes. The idea of drawing close to God in his creation crumbled into anxiously counting down till I could get up and preoccupy myself again.
Disappointed in myself and resolved to do battle to utilize my solitude time well, I set out the next week armed with an empty notebook and pen. My strategy was to try journaling and praying rather than verbalizing my thoughts and getting distracted by looking around at my whereabouts. The result of the endeavor was a four-page prayer, which consisted of praying for as many people as I could think of at Semester and at home. The time alone went by exponentially faster, and I felt my solitude time with God was more intentional and productive.
As the weeks at Semester have flown by, my appreciation for solitude time has grown and enriched my relationship with God, especially my prayer life. My prayers have slowly transitioned into a time of thankfulness, petition for others, and praise for the blessings of God. Previously, my prayers consisted of a quick checklist of my own wants and needs I would present to God in the form of a haphazard prayer.