Why is it that I crave solitude? The hustle and bustle of a busy home, children, harried schedule, husband working from home, constant noise of electronic devices, traffic, even the neighbor’s lawn mower—make me want to get away from it all far too often it seems.
In 1820, a 14-year-old boy, living in upstate New York (hardly a bustling metropolis), left his home (not in a subdivision) to retreat to the woods to pray. He wanted quiet from worldly sounds, sounds of other people, and from the cacophony of daily life (even a country life) to seek an answer from heaven. So he heard the birds singing, bees buzzing, leaves rustling, but felt solitude. Joseph Smith’s answer came with a glorious heavenly visitation from his Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. His communication with Divinity came in solitude.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us to pray in secret. He taught, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” But thou, 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 6:5-6)
Solitude can be found in any of the 153 temples dotting the earth. Elder Richard G. Scott, an apostle, one who speaks for the Lord, taught that, “It is a place of peace, solitude, and inspiration.” After all, it is the Lord’s House.
Even Henry David Thoreau learned from his time at Walden Pond, “In wilderness is the salvation of the world.”
And the greatest of any who has lived on this earth, Jesus Christ felt the need for solitude. In Luke Chapters 4, 5, and 6, He slipped away from the crowds and His disciples to the “wilderness,” to the “mountain,” to “seclusion.” If He needed it, so do all of us.
The times when I’ve felt closest to God are the times I have been in the wilderness, in the mountains, in seclusion, in the temple, and in quiet, secret prayer. My soul craves the connection with divine that happens much easier and with more intensity and frequency when I carve out, when I CHOOSE solitude. Maybe my feeling of wanting to escape has less to do with wanting to get away from something or someone and more to do with my Spirit’s need to connect with heaven.