Featured Book: The Way of the Heart

Week Two: The Struggle of Solitude

way-of-the-heartSolitude is good for us, but that doesn’t mean it will be an easy or tranquil time. In fact, Nouwen assures us in The Way of the Heart, that solitude is where we struggle to find our identity.

Each day we are hit with new expectations, desires, and compulsions that could pull is in so many different directions. The voice of God can be drowned out if we don’t pull back, face the worst parts of our false selves, and quietly wait on the Lord.

This week Nouwen describes some of what we can expect in solitude:


“Solitude is not a private therapeutic place. Rather, it is the place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born, the place where the emergence of the new man and the new woman occurs.”



“This struggle is far, far beyond our own strength. Anyone who wants to fight his demons with his own weapons is a fool. The wisdom of the desert is that the confrontation with our own frightening nothingness forces us to surrender ourselves totally and unconditionally to the Lord Jesus Christ. Alone, we cannot face the ‘mystery of iniquity’ with impunity.”


“We are responsible for our own solitude. Precisely because our secular milieu offers us so few spiritual disciplines, we have to develop our own. We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord.”


“Solitude is not simply a means to an end. Solitude is its own end. It is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world.”


Read more in The Way of the Heart.

For Reflection