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“The only cure for loneliness is solitude. This is my companion. I go to the hills and hide myself there. The trees shelter me. I am contained within a wilderness, and the wilderness in my heart grows to match it. My heart is as spacious as the wild around me. Yes I’m alone. But I am good. I am very good.”

~ David Hayward

Here’s sharing this contemplative artwork and the accompanying quote above. It is intriguing to read that “the only cure for loneliness is solitude”. I realise there is a difference between the two – loneliness is a heart condition of feeling insignificant and neglected by the surrounding people because one has momentarily lost sight of one’s own significance and inherent value and preciousness, whereas solitude is a deliberate decision to retreat from the surrounding people in order to recover one’s sense of self-identity and purpose in life. Jesus, for example, would withdraw from the crowds regularly to spend time alone in Nature to pray, presumably so that he could get back in tune with his own spirit and experience oneness with the universe all over again.

I like what David Hayward wrote here: “The trees shelter me. I am contained within a wilderness, and the wilderness in my heart grows to match it. My heart is as spacious as the wild around me”. Yes, in Nature, we reconnect ourselves to the endless expanse of our soul as reflected in the wild around us – the heights of the hills, the shelter of the trees, the stillness of the lake and the vastness of the sky all remind us of the magnificence and creativity and greatness that is inherent in us, and rekindle our hopes and dreams, and reinvigorate us to live life again with zest. I find this to be true when doing my own things, such as going to the library or going up to the rooftop of the office building and gaze at the clouds in the sky. There is a time for fellowship and interacting with people, and a time for solitude and contemplation for our own soul nourishment and refreshment.

Finding Solitude

All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

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