Many people are attracted to silence and solitude. They find the peace and quiet of nature very much to their liking. Some people are attracted to the sea shore to gaze on the vast ocean. Others find their way to the great outdoors. Others again take up hill walking or mountain climbing. All these activities put us in touch with solitude. The ancient Chinese sage Confucius once said ‘it is good to listen to solitude’. The poet W. H. Davies wrote in 1911, ‘What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare. A poor life, this, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’.
Many people find God in silence and solitude. Nelson Mandela found God in the quietness of his prison cell. Finding God helped him to endure twenty-seven years of isolation on Robin Island in South Africa. The ancient Irish monks and mystics retreated to quiet and remote places to study, reflect and pray. It was in the solitude that they heard the voice of God calling them. Christ himself, when he wished to pray and commune with his Father, sought a lonely place where he could be alone and undisturbed.
Many people go on pilgrimage to experience the presence of God. They leave their home and work for a short time to travel to places like Lourdes, Knock, Fatima, or Medjugorje. We see on television how Muslims go on pilgrimage to Mecca. Pilgrims agree that going on pilgrimage brings not just relaxation and healing but an encounter with God and with their own spirits. It is important for all of us to escape occasionally from the hassle of the world. Psychologists tell us, that the quiet hours of sleep are so necessary for our well-being and they recommend daily periods of quiet and rest. It is important to take time out in all walks of life ‘to stop and stare’. How we decide to do it is up to us.
From the Ennis Parish Newsletter (Adapted)