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Coronavirus having you craving alone time? These contemplatives explains why it’s important



John Burger - published on 04/01/20

"Me time" in the age of pandemic lockdown: A nun and monk explain why it's not selfish.

Solitude is an important human need. A whole lot of people right now are coming to understand that.

And yet, it’s understandable why some parents, suddenly thrust into a situation where everybody in the family is home all the time, with kids needing help with school work and the constant need of a referee in the house, might feel guilty about going to a room and locking the door.

One woman whose whole life is characterized by living at “home” advises just the opposite. Sr. Sophie Marie is a member of a contemplative community of nuns in Monona, Wisconsin, the Sisters of Mary Morning Star. Contemplatives, as opposed to “active” nuns (and monks), have a life focused on prayer and study. They also live in community, unless they are strict hermits.

So what does she advise people who are suddenly at home with the family 24/7?

“Have a balance of togetherness and also times of solitude,” Sr. Sophie Marie said. “We have to be prudent about not spending 24/7 together.” She acknowledged that a person’s time alone can and should  be “precious moments.”

“Knowing how to give yourself some breathing space, that’s a basic human thing,” she said.

A male contemplative in a different part of the country, who asked that he and his community not be identified, spoke in similar ways of the importance of solitude, even when people must live together. In fact, those moments of solitude help people to live with others.

“We strive to live in habitual companionship with God, which some call ‘recollection’ or the ‘practice of the presence of God.’ And that practice actually draws us closer to each other, even if our bodies are far apart,” the monk said. “Since God is the source and end of each of us, we can only draw closer to each other by drawing closer to him.”

To illustrate the point, he commented, “Think of lines emanating from a point. They can only get closer to each other where they are closer to the point.”

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