There’s a common malady running rampant in the 21st century that might be called the “rushing syndrome.” We rush to work…we rush home…we even rush to stop rushing. But we don’t stop until we have a full-blown case of physical and mental exhaustion – the rushing syndrome. Something is wrong and we know it. The symptoms are a sense of futility and dissatisfaction, worry and fatigue due to overwork in trying to get somewhere fast without a clear set of directions. The person who has the malady knows he wants to go somewhere, to make a constructive contribution to life, but he’s so busy rushing that he doesn’t take the time to evaluate his progress.
There’s a cure for that malady which I find exceptionally effective. The answer is found in these words from the French mathematician and philosopher of the 17th century, Blaise Pascal: “All men’s [and women’s] miseries come from their inability to sit quietly and alone.”
The cure is quiet time.
In Hamlet, William Shakespeare had one of his characters speak these great words of wisdom: “This above all, to thine own self be true.” Those are powerful words – they resonate in me. It’s another way of saying, “You must grow in the direction and with the rhythm which is best for you.” But to do so you must attain a perspective concerning yourself. No one can really know himself and judge whether he is being true to himself unless he first gets quiet and thinks things through.
Jesus gave some specific instructions about quiet time. He directed us to go into the prayer closet and close the door, getting alone with God and shutting out all distractions. [Matthew 6:6] At times, Jesus would go into the hills or down by the seashore alone. There He would pray and meditate on the purpose and direction of His life.
“I never found the companion who was so companionable as solitude,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. And I know just what he meant. The ideal companion is like the gentle spring rains which nourish and refresh us, one who brings out the best in us while helping us to grow. All of this and more, time alone can do for us.
Why should we fear solitude when we can make of it a friend? It can become our incubator for growth and a refuge from the storms of life. Learn to be alone with yourself…and your God.