Anna Quindlen had an insightful column in the August 7th edition of Newsweek. She writes about solitude and explains that though she loves her family, she loves time alone. Here are some collected snippets:

“I like solitude. I can spend days happily alone, eating Raisin Bran for dinner on the porch instead of bothering with a starch, a stove, and a napkin. Eldest of five, mother of three, veteran of noisy newsrooms: it is any wonder that I like the sound of silence? It has a good beat, and you can dance to it.”

“If you like to be by yourself, there’s the assumption that you’re antisocial, antifamily, a month away from becoming that old woman down the street with the weedy yard and the decrepit house, or the Unabomber. . . People covertly embrace faux solitude, the places in which they can be alone among others: the plane, the car, the pew.”

“Lack of solitude is probably why most political figures are slightly deranged. Between the aides, the staff, and the Secret Service, the president is never, ever alone, and senators richochet from meeting to charity lunch to meeting to fund-raising dinner to yet another meeting. Every once in a while I have a day like that, and at the end of it I have not had a single coherent thought. It’s like mosquitoes buzzing around your ears while you’re trying to sleep. You can’t dream through the din.”

“I can be the life of the party when necessary, but sometimes I just need to hear myself think. After all, if we can’t hear ourselves thinking, is any thinking truly going on?”

Angie here again: by the time this is posted, I’ll have spent four days surrounded by writers-in-training at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. I love being able to teach–and I love being able to give back. But I’ll be honest–by the time I get back home, I’ll be ready to talk about ANYTHING but writing.

I love solitude. I have a mountain of books to read, my computer can record all those great movies that run in the dead of night, and there is always something to be done around the house. I could happily live by myself (with a dog) in the middle of nowhere, with only short runs into town to assure myself that I’m Fit for Human Company. Through the magic of the Internet, my friends are a few keystrokes away.

But God has also called me (and you) to live and worship in family and community. And this is a good thing, because it is in rubbing up against others that we wear off our own rough edges. 🙂 It’s in family and communal living that we shake the egoism out of solitude and learn that we’re NOT the center of the universe.

Anna has a wonderful point about needing silence to think–amen! Silence is a spiritual discipline that we forget to practice in the hustle and bustle of life. Because we’re not listening, I wonder how many times we don’t hear God speak?

Take some time to practice silence today–it may be harder than you think. Get alone, get quiet, and . . . listen. What do you hear?



  1. Dana

    Great post! I agree totally (except that bit about me not being the center of the universe 😉 Recently I have taken times for absolute solitude and you’re right, much harder than you’d think….doing nothing, saying nothing, listening to nothing, but sitting still and quiet listening for God’s still, small voice. For, after all, HE is the center of the universe. Thank you for the wonderful, beautiful post. 🙂

  2. Tami Boesiger

    I enjoyed this post immensely. I, too, love the solitude. Having four kids, I often get up early or in the middle of the night to have precious quiet to myself. I pray I don’t turn into a grouchy, eccentric old woman who cannot tolerate noise of any kind. Your point about being called to rub up against others is well taken and so true. We need other people to be who God has intended us to be. It reminded me of the verse, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Thanks for giving me some “aah” on this Saturday morning.


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