I have been thinking about the various words that describe solitary life. So I looked up solitude. And it has this to say about the positive effects of being alone:
Freedom is considered to be one of the benefits of solitude; the constraints of others will not have any effect on a person who is spending time in solitude, therefore giving the person more latitude in their actions. With increased freedom, a person’s choices are less likely to be affected by exchanges with others.
That sounds like a description of the monastic enclosure and of solitude in a religious sense. In the end, it is all about freedom.
This morning I was thinking about silence. In particular, how the modern mind sees silence in terms of what I do. It is easy to see solitude and silence in a mechanical way: the absence of people and noise. But, in the spiritual sense, one can be in solitude and still have contact with people: “less likely to be affected by exchanges with others”.
The end of both solitude and silence is greater freedom to be with Jesus. They are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.