Questions for Reflection – Reclaiming Solitude (May 5th)
- The first step in claiming solitude is to give yourself permission. Would you say that you have given yourself permission? What factors – internal or external – do you see as affecting your ability to do so?
- What practical arrangements do you need to make in order to prepare for a time of solitude? Which are the most difficult to resolve? What resources are available to help you?
- Have you experienced a “solitude of the heart” while in the midst of other people? When and under what circumstances? Which ways of practicing solitude have you found helpful in increasing your ability to experience a solitude of the heart?
- Have you developed a rule of life – a discipline to guide you – that incorporates solitude? If so, what are the defining elements of your rule? If not, how could you begin to form one now?
Solitude and the Presence of God (April 21)
- Have you ever experienced God’s presence in solitude? What were the circumstances? How were you subsequently able to integrate the fruits of this experience into your life and faith?
- Do you see solitude as an escape from the problems of the world or an opportunity to wrestle with them? Recollect a time when you struggled with a personal crisis in solitude. What were the qualities of solitude that enabled you to resolve your problem?
- Often there is a tension between solitude and involvement with others in a faith community. Do you believe both are necessary for spiritual growth? How might your church incorporate silence and solitude in its worship and ongoing life as a faith community?
Questions for sermon: Solitude and the Life Cycle (April 14, 2019)
- Has it been your experience that opportunities for solitude, and the need for it, change throughout life? Which periods of life have given you the most solitude? The least? Are you experiencing the right balance between solitude and involvement in your present stage of life?
- Do you see a need for more opportunities for solitude in the lives of your children, or children you know? How could children be provided such opportunities while at the same time being protected from potential dangers?
- Do you think men and women tend to seek solitude in different ways? How does this relate to your own experience? Describe some practical strategies you have worked out with a loved one to accommodate your differing needs for solitude.
- Margaret Guenther has written that crafting your life is a task of the older years. How are you presently crafting your life? What, if any, is the part played by solitude?
Questions for Reflection – Solitude and Temperament (April 7, 2019)
- Do you identify more strongly with an extroverted, busy person or a quiet, contemplative person? Which elements of each do you see in your life?
- Do you think temperamental differences are innate and not subject to change? Can you think of a time that you tried to “change” yourself? Did you succeed? Why or why not? What did you learn about yourself as a result?
- The story of Mary and Martha can illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of two different temperaments. Do you see yourself as primarily a Mary or a Martha? What potential dangers of each have you noted in yourself? How have you learned to compensate?
- In general, do you view your temperament as a problem to be overcome or as a potential path of service? If the latter, to which ministries do you think God may be leading you by means of your own particular temperament?
Questions for Reflection: Solitude and the Self (March 31)
- Do you believe that each of us has a core self separate from the various roles we play? What adjectives would you use to describe your core self? How is it sometimes in conflict with your various roles?
- Recall a time that you, like Elijah, fled to the “wilderness” to rediscover yourself. What form did this wilderness take? What did you discover about yourself and about God’s path for you? Were you subsequently able to incorporate your insights into your life?
- Describe a time when a community of which you were part called you to a particular task or to a new understanding of yourself. Describe another time when your community discouraged you from pursuing the right path. Which type of experience has been more common for you? Would you say, in general, that community has played a positive or a negative role in your self-discovery?
- This chapter speaks of the importance of bringing our inner and outer selves into harmony. Which parts of yourself do you currently see as being in harmony? In conflict? What specific steps could you take to resolve a conflict with which you are currently struggling?
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION – THE HEALING POWER OF SOLITUDE (March 24th)
- Recollect a time when you needed spiritual or emotional healing. Did you seek out people for help, or time alone, or some combination of the two? Which proved most helpful? Did solitude enable you to integrate insights gained from others?
- Have you ever sought the healing a change of environment can bring? What were the circumstances? Where did you go? How did physical or psychological distancing assist in your healing?
- Do you find that simplifying your life is an aid to healing? What specific steps could you take to simplify your life further? Where would you begin? What internal or external forces are keeping you from simplifying? How could they be overcome?
- Recall a time of prayer or reflection that was especially meaningful for you. What was the setting? Were you alone or with others? Did you spend the time in silence, in worship, or in seeking some form of rational understanding? What does this suggest to you about the form of prayer (conventional or unconventional) that is best suited for you?
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION – CHAPTER TWO
- How would you describe your own attitude toward solitude? Do you tend to resist it or to welcome opportunities for it? What circumstances in your own past have contributed to your attitude?
- Moore distinguishes between solitude and loneliness. Think back to times of each in your life. How would you describe the difference between solitude and loneliness? Does the fear of loneliness discourage you from seeking solitude?
- Sometimes solitude can be the best means for working through a personal crisis. Recollect such a time of crisis in your life. What part, if any, did solitude play?
- Which potential dangers of solitude have you personally experienced? What safeguards have you found effective?
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION First Sermon
- Have you had an experience of solitude that changed your life? What were the circumstances? How did it change you?
- Are you aware of a desire to experience more solitude in your own life, or are the ways you currently experience solitude sufficient to address your need? How does a need for solitude manifest itself in your life?
- In what ways do you find that our culture discourages individuals from being alone? How do you see a hunger for solitude reflected in the larger society and in the lives of the people you know?
- Some of the gifts of solitude include greater attentiveness to one’s surroundings, insight, clarity, and an awareness of the presence of God. Have you experienced any of these gifts during periods of solitude? What other gifts have you experienced? How have you integrated them into your life?