Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Solitary

Eve Baker
"Solitude and silence are hard to find in the modern world, which regards both as aberrations which must be avoided. Yet solitude has never been more sought after, as the growth of the retreat movement shows. Increasingly, people are experiencing an interior call to solitude which, although it was a commonplace in the Middle Ages, is strange to today's religious concerns, with their emphasis on community. The solitary, standing outside these concerns, witnesses to a God who is divinely other and not a commodity to be possessed by the world for its own ends.

"The mystery of God is encountered in silence and solitude. The creative artists make raids into this unknown world of mystery, and return bearing artifacts. Others make solitude their home; these are the contemplatives."
Paths in Solitude*            

(*This little-known book examines aspects of solitude: solitude and society, the artist as solitary, and physical solitude, and at the historical roots of the solitary life, the monastic path, travelers and wanderers, hermits and institutions. The final part of the book is a guide to the Christian solitary life, the practicalities and the prayer of the solitary. The book is a bit hard to find, but go to the website of the Fellowship of Solitaries ( and I believe they still have it available there. Most likely there are many of us living a solitary life in the world, deeply committed to God, though not a 'vowed religious'. This is what is meant by the term 'Solitaries'. )


  1. Thank you. Now I have a word to describe what I have come to.

  2. My sense, and experience, is this is a vocation for some, possibly more than I would imagine, who are not vowed. I am vowed, but as one outside an enclosed setting - almost all of those men and women vowed in the community are, also, living outside. Possibly, this monastic-vocation being adopted by those outside is a sign of a new movement of monasticism for the 21st Century. Also, as the comment above - "what I have come to," I sense one is chosen to become this. I know my life has undergone changes, not all pleasant, that seem to be the vow to being solitude - with other vows - living itself out - as though it is happening, outside any conscious control or manipulation on my part.

  3. As humans, we are, they say, 'herd animals' and more comfortably when connected to a group. Therefore the vocation of a 'vowed' Solitary (whether in an order or not) goes against the grain and takes courage and faith - and a vow.


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