Peace and quiet. I collect them. In my home they’re readily found before the sun rises, mixed with the scent of freshly brewed coffee. They prefer a dimly lit room. They also have an affinity for my desk – the one I’ve pieced together like Frankenstein from mismatched chunks of walnut-colored tabletop. I hoard as many peaceful, quiet moments as I can before they’re chased into seclusion by bright lights and waking children.
Despite my propensity for introversion, I’m not anti-social or a recluse. I think people are great. I just enjoy moments without them.
Regular infusions of solitude refresh my perspective. They energize my work. Silence helps unclutter noisy thoughts and smooth pathways to clarity. Quiet mornings lead me toward spiritual renewal and reorientation.
But sometimes my solitary re-creation becomes conflicted, even paradoxical as my mind fills with thoughts of…people. Faces and conversations and shared experiences. In the serenity of my solo time I drift into pondering the mystery and wonder of being with people.
Sitting this week at Franken-desk in the pre-dawn stillness I’ve been rehashing a collection of recent experiences. A montage of relational highlights that include soccer games and a poetry reading. Wiring three-way switches, installing can lights, and rerouting furnace duct. A video parody. A pair of playful beavers. Eating half-chickens and tailgating through a Chicago rush hour. Comedy that wasn’t, goose poop that was (sort of) and a hotel fire alarm.
Broken trust. Tears of lament. Soulful petitions in a rain-spattered parking lot. The embrace of authentic friendship.
Confessions, celebrations, classic literature, and an ancient language. A highly viscous (but tasty) squash soup. A tale of providence and obedience. Children and their prayers of blessing. New connections and shared passions. A common faith.
We are made to relate. Be together: face-to-face, hand-in-hand, soul with soul. It is good to participate in humanity’s sacred solidarity. To be communal. To give and take.
I like my alone time. I like people more.
“What’s friendship, when all’s done, but the giving and taking of wounds?”
~ Frederick Buechner, Godric, p.7