Citing a September 2012 Ward 5 Heartbeat report on D.C.’s first “metropolitan hermitage” by Lindsey Suzanne Smith, Boorstein comments that “true solitude is such a rarity in our modern lives that we have to buy it — or, in this case, rent it for $70 a night.”
She goes on to note that “solitude isn’t that simple” because “many of those preparing to spend time at the hermitage said they were so unaccustomed to unstructured time alone that they made to-do lists — then feared they were doing “solitude” wrong and scrapped them.”
This is both comical and troubling, and faith communities of all religious traditions have a role to play in helping persons learn and appreciate the benefits of solitude and silence. Most faith traditions have a long history of practicing healthy moments of withdrawal for reflection, renewal and rest.
With the rising popularity of “silent retreats,” faith communities should consider ways to assist and guide persons seeking healthy, healing moments to find silence and rest.
However, this should not be seen as the newest “conversion tool/gimmick.” That is, faith communities should not seek to address this growing need for retreats as a tool for proselytizing.
Rather, faith communities should willingly share the best their faith tradition has to offer with regards to the benefits of taking time to rest, reflect and renew because helping those in need (whatever the need may be) is the right thing to do. It is ones of the ways that we can practice the seemingly ubiquitous religious imperative to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”
The full-text of Boorstein’s article can be found here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/silent-retreats-rising-popularity-poses-a-challenge-how-to-handle-the-quiet/2012/12/12/01c1052c-37f0-11e2-a263-f0ebffed2f15_story.html