As I mentioned recently, I am rereading The Golden Milestone by Frank Boreham. Boreham was a pastor in New Zealand 100 years of so ago and writes wonderful pastoral essays. In “Reflections in the River” he discusses the need for us to get to know ourselves by spending time alone, in solitude and even loneliness. I am reminded of an older (though she wouldn’t like that word!) homeschooling friend who observed that her homeschooled son knew himself better and was so much less prone to peer-pressure and so much more content than her daughter who had always gone to school because he had much time alone.
Boreham advances the same idea — that it is in solitude that we get to know ourselves and that we become prepared also for what God may call us to next. Here is what he says:
“It has often impressed me as a most striking circumstance that the greatest of the prophets and the greatest of the apostles were both sent into the silences for years and years for no other purpose then to get to know themselves.”
He cites the examples of Moses who spent 40 years as a shepherd in the desert till he was called to lead his people and Paul who after his conversion “retired to the Arabian solitudes.” The examples could go on — what of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert and John the Baptist’s time in the desert and Elijah’s vast loneliness?
Our tendency is to schedule ourselves and our children into oblivion. I think especially as homeschoolers we fear missing nay opportunity or having any gaps so we pile our kids up with academics and extracurriculars and socialization and we leave them little time to be alone. And if they are lonely, we have failed and not socialized them and they are sure to be ruined by our efforts so we add more and more. But perhaps it is loneliness that they need. Boreham shows us that it is often through solitude, even hard solitude, that God prepares us for what comes next in each of our lives.