“…he was there alone…”

“…he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone…”
– Matthew 14:23

The only thing that ever stays the same whenever I take that Meyers Briggs Test is the “N” part – “Intuitive” – everything else – the Introvert/Extrovert, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perception stuff – seems to constantly change. Right now I test as an Introvert. This month the idea of going “up into a mountain apart to pray” sounds really lovely to me.  And I guess I’ve been feeling guilty about that. I’m not sure everyone understands the need some of us have for solitude. I worry it might be viewed as unfriendly or “not doing one’s part,” or even insulting, if I say no, I’m not going to be able to make it to that party; or no, I can’t go to that meeting; or no, I can’t join all of you this time. 

But hey – even Jesus needed time alone, right?


        “For three years after my discovery, I sought the solution of this problem of Mind-healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule. The search was sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing.”
– Mary Baker Eddy




Sweet Solitude!

sweet solitude

Photo taken on top of Table Mountain in the North Cascades, by Karen Molenaar Terrell

I took myself on a hike today – just me and… well… myself. I was so excited to go on a date with me. We-me hadn’t gone on a hike alone for a really long time. I was even looking forward to the one and a half hour drive up to the trailhead – excited about being able to put in a CD of my choice, without having to worry if my choice of music was going to annoy any poor hapless individual stuck in the car with me; excited about being able to roll the windows all the way down if I wanted without having to worry about somebody else’s hair getting mussed, or face getting lashed and buffeted by the wind; excited about being able to stop and take pictures if I wanted, get some tea maybe, take my time – without having to worry about anyone else’s needs or schedule; and really, really excited about stretching my legs in the mountains again. I’ve been having a “mountain jones” the last week.

And I have to tell you – it was MARVELOUS! I had a great date with myself. I put in a Jason Mraz CD and sang along with it all the way to the Heather Meadows parking lot. And once I hit the trail I started singing the theme song from “The Sound of Music” – because when I’m on a date with myself there can never be enough schmaltz. We (me and myself) felt really good up there today – strong and able. When we got to the top of Table Mountain we built a little cairn out of rocks and then sat down for a lunch of crackers and cheese. Then, because we were feeling strong and able, we decided to venture another half a mile or so along the ridge to a nice overlook of the valley below. We didn’t hurry. We took our time, snapped photos when we wanted, stopped and just took in the views when it pleased us.

We saw a marmot scrambling around in the rocks up there, and met some cheerful friendly fellow hikers. On the way down we stopped and moved to the side as a young woman made her way up the trail. The trail is steep, and in places there’s a sheer drop on the other side of it, and the woman looked to be clinging to the rocks when she could.- I got the impression she was a little nervous about the whole adventure. I told her she was almost to the top and it was GORGEOUS up there, and her friend, who was standing next to me, waiting for her, said, “Yes! That’s right! You’re almost there!” and looked at me with gratitude in his eyes. “Thank you,” he said to me, . “Have a wonderful afternoon!”

And I did. 🙂

“…he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” – John 6:14

“…a solitary place…”


And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. – Mark 1: 35

Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! – Isaiah 5: 8


 Ah! Solitude!  Space to breath. Room to think.  Time to complete a thought, and resolve a life-problem, without interruption.   Privacy to let the face  relax, and the body slump.  Freedom, for a moment, to just be –  without expectation or responsibility or obligation or compromise.  Freedom from someone else’s schedule, and someone else’s judgment. Freedom from another’s needs or wants – there will be time and space for that, too – later. But for now – there is this sacred time alone.  Just God (Life, Love, Truth) and me.

From as far back as I can remember I’ve enjoyed my time alone. When I was a youngster I really enjoyed wandering around the backyard on my own, climbing trees, swinging at the tetherball on its pole, and talking to myself – telling myself stories of wild horses, and war heroes who carried important messages over the mountains, and Indian princesses who lived in the forest and healed the wild creatures.  And if the neighbor kids happened to come over to play with me when I was in the middle of one of my stories, I had to work really hard to hide my disappointment.

Yeah, I was a weird kid.

And I’m probably an even weirder adult. 🙂

Somewhere in the teen years – that time in life when it seems the most important thing in the world is for everyone to see that you’re popular and liked and have a lot of friends – it became kind of embarrassing for me for people to ever see me alone.  I didn’t stop having my alone time, of course – but I didn’t want people to SEE that. I mean, they might think that I was alone because I didn’t have any friends – and – heaven forbid anyone should think I didn’t have friends!

And then there came a day when I realized – whoah! I can go sit out there on the brick wall in the sunshine and look at the Olympic Mountains – all clear and clean on the horizon – and eat my sandwich… all by myself!! And… I can drive myself up to the mountains and go skiing and hiking… all by myself!!!  And… I can go see that movie I’ve been wanting to see!!! And I don’t need to wait for other people to be ready, or available, or to have time in their schedule – I can do this ALL BY MYSELF!!!

Freedom. 🙂

I should probably make clear here that It’s not that I didn’t , or don’t, like people. I LOVE people – I love meeting new friends, laughing and hanging out with old friends, I love my neighbors, and I love my family – every single quirky one of ‘em  (the fruit really DOESN’T fall far from the tree).  But I really need my solitary time, too, and I don’t know how I would survive in a society where my solitary walks were taken from me, where I needed to be accompanied by someone else at all times, and where I couldn’t find a place of privacy for myself.  I’m not sure I’d be able to function.

I am so very grateful for places and times of solitude.

…when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. – Matthew 6: 6