Adapted from Handbook to Spiritual Growth
ACCEPTING BOTH SOLITUDE & COMMUNITY
There is a natural tendency to be pulled toward the extremes of individualism on the one hand and of institutionalism on the other. The individualistic extreme minimizes the value of life in community, while the institutional extreme causes the person to be lost in the service of the institution.
It is best to avoid the two horns of this dilemma by embracing the both-and tension between solitude and community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it well in Life Together: “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. … If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called. … Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. … If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.”
When we accept the polarities of solitude and community, we discover that our personal walk with God is nourished in communion with others, and that this life of unity in diversity and oneness in plurality is a reflection of Trinitarian life.