"The soul is like a wild animal - tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. But it is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently by the base of the tree, and fade into our surrounding, the wild animal we seek might put in an appearance." ~Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness
I'm reading through the book Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton, and before I left for India I read the second chapter in preparation for my next meeting with my Aunt. The chapter is on solitude and creating space for God. I remember little about the chapter, having read it a couple weeks ago, in the midst of getting ready for India and heading back to school. So I came back to the book to re-read the chapter, and that quote was the first thing I read. It hit me - BAM - very unlike the first time I read it.
My soul has been in hiding. It's resilient to be sure, because in the midst of this hard, chaotic experience it's still here. I know this with such certainty because two days ago this wild animal cried out in pain and frustration as it needed to roam and have a space to just be. It's a busy schedule we keep, with constant, in-your-face type confrontation of poor and helpless people, in a loud, ceaselessly busy city. There is no quiet space. The sounds of the city and the people come in through all parts of the building. The windows and doors can be closed, yet the sound of honking vehicles and shouting people come through loud and clear. Much more so if you're outside.
Where, then, can a person find a place to fade into their surroundings, patiently waiting for the soul to appear? Where can one find a place of silence, quiet, solitude? This is what my soul cried out for two days ago. A quiet place to seek quietness and solitude. A place it could roam free and just be in the presence of God. Fully exposed without fear of being spooked or trampled. I'm only just beginning this journey of seeking solitude, but the recognition of my soul's need for it has been exponentially displayed and experienced on this trip. And I'm finding that there are times I have to create a place for myself. A place of solitude that is not merely external but internal as well. When you don't have a physical, tangible external location that provides a place of quiet solitude you have to get resourceful.
How did I manage, you may ask. Well, I'll tell you. Upon a teammate's recommendation I grabbed my earplugs, pillow (wrapped in a blanket), journal, Bible, pen & light, and I went to the rooftop of the building. I found a location out of the way, that was dry and least likely to be disturbed, sat on my blanket covered pillow, put in my earplugs and began to quiet myself. There were still external noises surrounding, but they were significantly muted. However, just by removing the majority of distractions, especially that of other people, and internally quieting my spirit, I was able to find the solitude my soul was so desperately seeking.