Friday, June 25, 2010


"But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray." Luke 5:16

I came home from the beach early to begin teaching Freshman Comp, and realized I have spent probably more time alone these past six months than in the past 25 years. It's been a fruitful solitude, and Barnesville, where I am sojourning by myself at the moment, hardly fits the description of a desolate place-- it's bursting with all the fecundity caused by a rainy spring, including my abundant raspberry patch--but I am here alone.

I do miss Roger and my kids--and that's a good thing. It's a good thing when you can say you miss your teenage children and mean it!

This past semester at ESR, I was also in solitude often, as I rented a small apartment near campus and stayed there midweek to attend classes. Often, it was so bitingly cold that I hurried home to be in the warmth and do my reading. As spring came, I made friends, for which I am glad, but often was still alone with my work.

I realize my time in Richmond at ESR was a joyful, rich solitude, and quickly understood that my deliberately austere apartment was my version of Thoreau's cabin, a place stripped down to the essentials where I could "front" life. The solitude was creative and clarifying, though I would miss Roger terribly at times.

My children being gone--either to college or boarding at Olney--has created much of this solitude. While I was glad the boys could board at the school last year, I also wonder if we should have kept them home another year. I developed a pattern of stopping at Sophie's college town en route to Richmond so we could have lunch together weekly, which was a good way to keep in touch.

I know people have different tolerances for solitude. I am glad Jesus went off by himself to commune with God and refuel. I wonder how other people deal with solitude and whether they find it helpful or not.


Jeremy Mott said...

Diane, if you want your faith renewed as to what Quaker education can do, google Bolivian
Quaker Education Fund and page through the photos and mini-biographies of Bolivian Quaker students. In most cases, the Quaker content of their education
comes entirely from church, since
most of the Quaker schools have
closed, now that public education
is widespread in Bolivia. And all
these students are attending non-Quaker universities, since there are no Quaker colleges in Bolivia.
Yet these students are exploding with learning and ambition to grow
and serve their Aymara community, their church, and their country, as well as bettering their own lot.
You'll enjoy this, I'm sure.
Jeremy Mott

Hystery said...

I cannot function for long (at least not effectively) without solitude. I have to spend time alone every day because to be around others draws my energy away and makes me physically ill and psychologically depleted. I love teaching and giving lectures and speeches, but so often when I finish this exhilarating work, I get migraines, and am bone-tired for another day or so following. Thankfully, I live in a tight-knit family of introverts so we all understand that need. We have various corners of our house where individuals retreat for a few minutes or a few hours to replenish. Still, it is difficult with children. They are not sympathetic to Mother's need to be alone.

Diane said...


I will look at that Bolivian education site!


You and I are alike. I crave that refueling time. I also get physically sick--usually the flu--if I don't get space to rest.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I used to really like solitude when a boy and a young man. Actually I still do, at least in spurts, but then miss Deb a lot. But I think along with imposed silence, it does do me good.

Hope your time is good right now. I imagine you'll have a bit of a break from it since the 4th is nearly on us.