Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
One of our values is that of Community, not unlike convents or monasteries, other "churches," communes (old and new types). So, is there a place for a Quaker hermit?
Just as Thomas Merton received permission from his abbot to have times of solitary existence, I do think there are times when individual Quakers may have a need for solitary time of silence and contemplation. Even Thoreau went to the woods.
In the "noise" of this world, in the contention that at times seeps into Quaker communities, sometimes the best way we can tap that which is of the Spirit withing ourselves is to separate from the "noise" from without.
Admittedly the solitary pursuit is not for everyone, yet for some it is quite healing. Solitary contemplation removes the distractions, allows focus, and brings clarity to issues that may have seemed to be unsolvable puzzles if one remains in the midst of the "noise."
This is an extremely difficult pursuit for those who are tied to urban living, when one's only transportation is the city bus system, when (as Paul Simon so aptly put it) "one man's ceiling is another man's floor." However, think of the victory that would come of finding peace within while existing in such mayhem?
Naturally, the solitary life is not permanent. We must go to the grocery store occasionally. We may find fulfillment in volunteer activities serving others. And eventually, we may be able to return to our original or another Quaker Meeting. But "to everything there is a season," and sometimes we find ourselves best suited to a season of solitude.
Is this too mystical for the present day? I don't think it is. Any thoughts from others?