I was reading a 1941 National Geographic about the Isle of Patmos. It described the grotto that the apostle John lived in when the Romans banished him to Patmos' Isle. Away from people, John was alone with God, and although it was designed as a punishment, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. John wrote the gospel of John and the book of Revelation in that grotto.
In Rome, you can visit the underground cell at Mamertine prison, where the apostle Paul was imprisoned. This kind of prison was for criminals bound for execution. Yet again, what was meant to be punishment became a blessing. In that cell, the apostle Paul wrote the books of Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, and the world was blessed.
In Ontario, we have been given a stay-at-home order and are only authorized to leave home for essential reasons like food, medical, or exercise. Now we have been experiencing many restrictions since Christmas, but this is much more severe confinement.
Some may see this as an infringement of their rights. I recognize that it's for the country's benefit, so I will do my best to adhere to what the government has required of me. However, it is challenging.
Some may feel this is a punishment, yet as I consider what happened to Paul and John when they were confined, I expect revelation to come out of this time of solitude.
Benefits of solitude
I was reading an article in Forbes about the benefits of solitude. They listed seven science-backed reasons why we should embrace solitude.
- Alone time increases empathy.
- Solitude increases productivity.
- Solitude sparks creativity.
- Being alone can help you build mental strength.
- Solitude may reduce behavior problems in kids.
- Being alone allows you to plan your life.
- Solitude helps you know yourself.
I encourage you to read the article.
Personal Benefits of Solitude
As a result of this confinement, I have seen the following benefits beginning to manifest in my life.
- I play the guitar every day, and as a result, my musical skills have improved.
- I wrote a song the other day.
- I have been focusing on my online university courses.
- I have done a lot more exercise.
- I've read a lot more.
- I am digitizing my photos.
- I'm creating many musical charts.
- I sent a new book to my publisher for printing.
I spoke with a few of my acquaintances about this topic, and they identified the following benefits occurring in their lives.
- I'm connecting with my family.
- I'm talking with my kids.
- We are sitting down and eating together, and I think about how we can engage in conversation.
- I have de-cluttered my house and simplified.
- I've gotten off the treadmill of life.
- I've written poetry.
- I've learned how to use Design Space application for my Cricut.
- I am mastering one of my crafting hobbies.
- I mail more cards.
- We played music outside on Christmas Eve for our neighborhood, and our neighbors gathered to listen.
- I'm getting much more exercise.
- I feel free to permit myself to binge-watch a TV series.
- I'm running a Zoom group focusing on making crafts.
- I have time to sort my attic.
- I am reconnecting with people that I have not spoken to in a long time.
- I am reflecting on accomplishments and lessons I have learned, and the wisdom I have gained over a lifetime.
I particularly like what one of my friends said: "Even though we are in a storm, God is still calling us to step out with purpose. This time has caused me to pause. I feel like my life was a machine, and the gears were being oiled to keep going, but that machine is now paused. I think it's time to reboot to get a fresh new operating system in place and put things back in place. I have time to plan it out and start up again. I have a new beginning. I feel like I'm a better person."
Although these revelations are not on the scale of the Apostle Paul or John they still have a great impact on those I have spoken to and they would not have happened if we had not been confined.
Confinement can also be a prison
There is a fine line between solitude and loneliness. Many are finding this time to be extremely difficult and suffer from severe loneliness. Solitary confinement is the worst punishment a prison can give. Many feel they are in solitary confinement.
I also spoke to someone who said they are having a very challenging time. They have to teach their kids because their school is online. They can't take their kids to the parks because they're all closed. They can't take their kids snowboarding or even sledding. They can't visit with friends. Overall, they are feeling confined, frustrated, and distraught.
Listen to the still small voice
I have always had the practice of contacting people when they come to my mind. I might remember their name, I might remember their face, but I attempt to reach out to them as a result. If I have their phone number, I call them directly. Otherwise, I will use some social media to make a connection. Sometimes it takes effort if I haven't heard from them for many years. What is impressive is when I do make contact with them, they are delighted. They're always happy to hear from me, and we chat and get caught up. In this small way, I am breathing hope into the prison of their loneliness and proactively unlocking the door.
I recently sought out a person who I had not spoken to in 35 years. It was challenging to find him, but he was happy to hear from me. He told me that he was having medical problems, and his business was in trouble. I gave him some business advice, and we also prayed together for his healing. All this happened because I listened to that still small voice that I heard in times of solitude.
I mentioned that I'm digitizing my old photographs, and this has been a fascinating journey down memory lane. In the process, I uncovered many pictures of old friends. I started mailing them to friends I haven't spoken to in many years. Again, the response is the same, they're thrilled to hear from me, and it brings back great memories.
These are things all of us can do. People need to hear from others. Remember the mother coping with her kids, and the elderly who cannot see their family, need to talk with someone. Call them, Skype them, Zoom them. Video is better if you can arrange it. Your call will breathe life into their hearts.
The other night I watched the movie Soul on Disney plus. It is about a man who dies but always felt he never achieved his life goal. At the end of the movie, he has an opportunity to achieve his life goal, and he realizes that it was not that important, and the journey to the life goal was more important than the destination.
This confinement is a part of our current journey. Enjoy it. It has many blessings. This season will come to an end. We will go back to our busy insane schedules. My prayer for you is that you will not forget the benefits of solitude, and I encourage you to reach out to others during this time, particularly those that come to your mind. It is part of our journey.
For more information on Bill and Sue's books and seminars turn to www.thesecretplace.ca
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