On my weekend retreat I had the opportunity to spend a few moments with two Tibetan followers of the Dali Llama and one of the Angola three. We talked about our mutual experiences with solitude and solitary. Nouwen says we cannot seriously experience a spiritual life if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him. If we have to — write it down in black and white on a calendar so that nobody else can take that time away.
Solitude is one of the deepest disciplines of a spiritual life because it crucifies our need for importance and prominence. Everyone, including ourselves at first, will see our solitude as a waste of good time. When we are removed from where the action is, it is exactly where we need to be. In silence and solitude God slowly but surely frees us from our ego. Once we have experienced God at work on our soul, all the blare and attention of the world seem like a distant and fragmentary echo.