… in solitude

Published on 14 Sep 2016
Credit Jane Hellings

Yesterday morning I went for a breath of air outside in the Square. The wind and the rain had been fierce all night but now at last it was calm and the sun was trying to shine. I am not a great walker anymore but a breath of fresh air improves the spirits for the rest of the day.

Anyway, our Square has trees growing in it, and the variety of shapes and sizes makes for interest at any time of the year. People cross the Square as often as they walk round it as it provides shortcuts to streets on the opposite side.

So, as I walk along with my walking-stick there is much to see: trees, blackbirds, squirrels, students, elderly folk, children sometimes, clouds and patches of blue sky. But I am alone. There is no one at my side. Now and again I might get a kindly nod from a passer-by, thanks to the walking-stick, but I have a sense of not belonging as much as I would like to.

Then I remembered something someone once said – I think it was Cardinal Newman. He said, ‘I am never less alone than when I am alone’. He meant that he loved to be alone with God even more than he loved the company of fellow human beings. People around him tended to make him forget that God was there too.

Yesterday, then, I used my imagination to make true what was already true: whatever I saw on my walk, God could see as well. In fact, nobody else in the world could see exactly what I was seeing from the angle where I was standing, except God. Everything I was seeing, hearing, feeling, was already known to God, so we could hold a conversation without misunderstandings. God didn’t say much, but was a great listener.