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The Garden of Solitude

Five weeks of full bedrest, preceded by 13 weeks of partial bedrest.

My journey through my pregnancy with quadruplets ushered in life lessons that remain strongly rooted in my heart and soul.

We moved to Baltimore, Maryland during week 20 of my pregnancy. I was on partial bedrest and knew no one. I left the house only for doctor appointments. I could only get up to shower and eat.

A friend called me and as I expressed my loneliness to her she responded; “Enjoy the solitude while you can!” She had two children.

In that moment I realized drastic changes to my lifestyle were on the way.

At 32 weeks of pregnancy, my dream came true! I was launched into motherhood.

That was 23 years ago.

Today, as I navigate living alone, with all four of my children living their independent lives, I am keenly aware of the difference between loneliness and solitude.

To quote one of my favorite authors, Henry Nouwen: “As hard as it is to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty.”

I moved from loneliness to solitude.

In solitude I can pay attention to my inner self. I can learn to become my own best friend. Then I can become present for others not out of neediness but with the intention of building community.

I have learned how to muster up courage to face the restlessness and let go of clinging to outside cravings and enjoy the garden of solitude.

As the statistics of loneliness and depression rise, I wonder the impact of teaching and modeling a mindset that redefines loneliness and embraces the beauty of solitude.

Perhaps it will be seen as a gift.

When he sent the multitudes away, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. Matt. 14:23

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