One night I began to see a glimmer of something new and good for others emerging from my experiences in solitude. It was a beautiful summer evening, the windows and doors were all open, and our home and yard were full of the kind of energy that only a group of lively junior high-schoolers could bring. No matter that it was getting late, I was trying to meet a writing deadline and tomorrow was a full day of work; on this night our daughter Bethany and about twenty of her closest friends had come together for an evening of spontaneous "hanging out" at our home. Some were in the backyard playing volleyball, others were on the street shooting hoops, another contingency played pool in the basement, and always there was someone traipsing past my office for a drink or a snack.

My initial reaction to this scenario was irritation. Couldn't I just get a break here? Couldn't I get a little peace and quiet so I could get something done? This was not a new feeling for me; it is who I am when left to myself. All too often, I have responded to my life in the company of others with this kind of frustration, bent on getting my own way and shaping my environment to my own wants and needs. In fact, the awareness of my self‑centeredness was one of the things that had sent me on the quest for deeper levels of transformation in the first place.

But on this night I found myself finally ready to ask a different kind of question. Rather than asking how I could manipulate my environment to get what I wanted, the question came, Is there anything from my experiences of fullness in God these days that I can bring to this moment, to these children? I wasn't asking the question out of the "guilty mom" place. I was asking it because everything in me ...

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The Strength of Solitude
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June 2005

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