his branches run over the wall.” Genesis 49:22
Solitude is not a private space over against the public space of community, nor is it merely a healing space in which we restore ourselves for community life. Solitude and community belong together; each requires the other as do the center and the circumference of a circle. Solitude without community leads us to loneliness and despair, but community without solitude hurls us into a "void of words and feelings." (Bonhoeffer)
Solitude is essential to community life because in solitude we grow closer together. When we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend quiet time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are in fact participating fully in the growth of community. It is a fallacy to think that we grow closer to each other only when we talk, play or work together. Much growth certainly occurs in such human interactions, but at least as much growth can take place when we enter into solitude. We take the other with us into solitude, and there the relationship grows and deepens. In solitude we discover each other in a way which physical presence makes difficult, if not impossible. Henri Nouwen, "Solitude and Community"
And I think about my Fixed Prayers lists, and bringing my lists of names before the Throne and laying those beloved people who have dug a hook into my heart and pausing, gazing, remembering and longing for His grace to shine. And solitude can be hamster wheels of grievances or it can be jars of oil poured running down over bent heads.
The choice is mine.
And it is still quiet in this place of shelved up bodies from all over the world, stacked. Each with a yearning from this grace. Each willing to lay all of the periphery circumference to one side to seek the center in order to return in wholeness.
And may today I take the other with me as I roll through these green pastures and still waters, for growth and deepening and discovery. That I might be a fruitful bough, with branches running over the wall.
Fruit, hmmmmm. Peace? Patience? Goodness? Meekness?
Solitude? Today was one of those days when we weren't so much trailing gloves and socks and locks behind us, but rather team members. Everywhere. And we spent three hours by the side of the road waiting for each other or riding and reriding up and down steep eight degree grades or riding back and forth, again and again. And all systems of communication, yeah, the shared root word as "community," like as in all together now, did not do so well.
And it dumped rain on top of all of our tidy plans.
We rode down the last steep steep hill drenched and shivering and soaked through all of our bungy-corded plastic bags and wind breakers and layers. And ended up taking a train into Bilboa, which was pretty much stamping "Loser" on all of our pelegrino ideals.
So. Great opportunity to avoid grievances, and a great moment to put into practice grace. As in the May we forgive those who trespass against us that RJ led us in this morning's prayer.
And the sun came out. And we ate tapas in the ancient plaza with mamas and babies and grandpapas and everything is crinkle smiles and laughter. And now we are chatting at the hostel with a Brit and two Belgians who work with Oxfam. Who made us pasta. And Tracy and I are sharing our room with a girl who just got her PhD from Berkeley and a soccer player from Argentina who are both walking the Camino. And who could even believe this?
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thine name.