Friday, February 22, 2013


The writer Eudora Welty said that understanding one place helps us understand all places. She gave this advice to fiction writers, urging them to set stories in places that were real to them. Readers would be able to recognize authenticity even if the place were unknown to them.

Do her words apply to inner spaces, too? If we come to know our interior neighborhood, can we carry that knowledge with us into our everyday lives, where it will serve us no matter how far we travel?

Mystics of various religious beliefs, and those without religion but a hunger to explore their souls, tell us that finding time apart is essential to discovering the inner self. Being alone with Nature offers a magnificent opportunity, but so can sitting in a quiet room with no electronics intruding.

It's a queer idea, and getting queerer all the time, to plan time alone divorced from email, radio, TV, ipads and phones. Our previously busy lives have somehow become more frantic. It's a challenge to eat even one meal mindfully. We feel uneasy turning down social opportunities so we can have time alone, and even we who are natural introverts feel sheepish about our need for personal space.

Yet, if the urge to be alone with God, Nature, and our thoughts calls us, we'd be wise to answer “yes.” The quality of our regular lives may depend on it.