There’s a difference between loneliness and solitude. In this time of social distancing it is easy to become lonely and there are many folks who no doubt are starved for human contact. Fortunately I am not alone in this time. I am walking four or five miles each day and frequently praying the rosary during those walks. I’ve long been a person drawn to contemplation and this is a time that can foster that. The rosary aids my contemplation and so does the silence that surrounds me on most of these walks. My life has become almost monastic. The following quote by Thomas Merton invited me to think about the gift of life and the gift of solitude and how during this time of social distancing and quarantine we are moving closer to contemplative life.
“When society is made up of men who know no interior solitude it can no longer be held together by love: and consequently it is held together by a violent and abusive authority. But when men are violently deprived of the solitude and freedom which are their due, then society in which they live becomes putrid, it festers with servility, resentment and hate.”― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
Maybe we’ll emerge from this pandemic a changed society. At least we can hope so.