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...
I am in solitude these days within a large and praying community. What a gift!Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, January 18th
Solitude does not separate me from others; it helps me love them more tenderly, realistically and attentively. I begin to distinguish between the false solitude which is a flight from other to be alone with egoism, sadness or a bruised sensitivity, and the true solitude which is communion with God and others.