|Linda, on Weko Beach, Michigan|
A prime conviction of Henri Nouwen is that solitude serves as a fertile ground from which community grows. Nouwen writes:
"With solitude… we learn to depend on God, who calls us together in love, in whom we can rest, and through whom we can enjoy and trust each other even when our ability to express ourselves to each other is limited. With solitude, we are protected against the harmful effects of mutual suspicions, and our words and actions become more joyful expressions of an already existing trust, rather than a subtle way of asking for proof of trustworthiness. With solitude we can experience each other as different manifestations of a love that transcends all of us." (Nouwen, Clowning in Rome; cited in Will Hernandez, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension, Kindle Locations 1133-1136)
Practically, I have learned that the more alone-time I take with God, and take this time in a certain focused way, the softer and less edgier I become. I am a better husband to Linda, and a better father to my children. This is because, in my prayer meetings with God, I release my stresses and burdens and fears to God and leave them with him. This is not some theory for me. I have learned it, in my habit of praying.
One cannot consistently meet with God and remain judgmental of community. Our spiritual formation, our being-morphed into increasing Christlikeness (Galatians 4:19), is to be the Church, that Jesus-community which is the Christ's Bride.