Reflecting on the life of my mother-in-law, Theresa Veronica Prescott-Brown, has been such an uplifting experience. I have met people from mommy’s life who have been greatly impacted by her life and love. I have met people who have known her for 40 years and greater, and I have met those who have known her for only 4. The range of experiences and influences she had which affected others cannot be overstated.
Dynamic. Loving. Caring. Passionate. Insightful. Energizing. Driven. Affectionate. Funny. Great Smile. Loved to Laugh. Loved Jesus. Minister. Committed. Kind. Strong. Giving. Sacrificing. These few barely scratch the surface of the descriptions of mommy.
As her family continues to live on, while grieving, this has caused me to do some reflecting on 2 words: Solitude and Isolation
:to willfully withdraw from community for the purpose of reflection and re-energizing.
Solitude can be seen in the lives of history’s spiritual mystics and monks, who all withdrew from society for a time to draw closer to God. Enoch, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist all experienced solitude. They went alone with God, and it gave them strength to carry on their lives and their mission. Jesus is known to frequently steal away in the solitude of the midnight and morning hours to pray with God. Each of these people was wanted by their community, when they are absent they were missed by the community. In many cases the community seeks out those in solitude, seeking to bring community’s love to them.
Solitude shares a similar root word with Solace. In grief there is a comforting effect in coming aside in solitude with God. Here the silence is the warm embrace of God’s presence and of acceptance. There are no barriers in solitude...simply time away.
:when one is alone due to one’s desire to not be in community, or when one is alienated by the community.
This is often brought about by conflict. It is often due to the recalcitrant, unrepentant, self-centered, selfish, self-absorbed, self-victimizing, self-exalting, manipulative, domineering, and abusive personality of the isolated.
Isolation means cut off, quarantined, as if the one isolated is a cancer to the body the must be removed, or the infection will spread. Isolated ones in the Bible were Cain, Saul, Judas, Jesus. Jesus claimed this isolation feeling when he cried out “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” It was my sin that brought Him isolation.
Jesus also described this isolation when weeping over Jerusalem:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Matthew 23:37-38
Here we see there is a barrier...it is the rejection of the love of God. So long as one continues in stubborn obstinance and manipulatively lacking integrity, not only is a community justified is isolation, but God isolates as well. “Your house is left unto you desolate...” Here the silence is a cold blanket on a cold walk in a cold direction in a cold land...with no goal in mind, and no one to walk with.
I remember my mother-in-law with deep affection, and I will miss her terribly. And so I may make a trip into solitude for a while, to allow God to begin the healing process. However, I will not be in isolation. I have seen isolation first hand, and it truly is a “desolate house”.