Solitude isn’t the same as isolation, at least in my heart and mind. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines solitude as “the quality or state of being alone or removed from society” and isolation as “the action of isolating or the condition of being isolated.” I find something relaxing and restorative about solitude, while I never associate isolation with any positive. Prisons have isolation cells, hospitals have isolation wards, horror movies are often set in isolated cabins, you get the picture.
I went from living in my family home to a college dorm then to apartments with roommates. It’s difficult to find solitude when other people are always around. While 2020 didn’t change my living situation, I found a peaceful solitude in the hours I spent outside, tending my garden or simply enjoying the fruits of that labor.
With the change in my work situation, I had time to enjoy the cool of the morning on the patio. I took to drinking my coffee and doing my devotionals outside. The songs of the birds, the whisper of the wind and the cackling of the squirrels became the soundtrack of my meditations.
A corner of my bedroom became my office and instead of coworkers stopping by, I had the neighborhood happenings outside my window to distract me. It’s much easier to tear my eyes away from passing traffic and children playing than it is to usher out a talkative guest who doesn’t catch on when I turn my attention back to my computer while they continue to ramble. I’ve missed some of those random drop ins, particularly the ones that led to laughter, but the sound of children playing and experiencing the simple joys of riding bikes, bubbles, or sidewalk chalk has helped to provide those lighter moments.
While the news proclaimed rioting, fear, anger, and despair, I had the blessing of being able to escape all the madness by stepping outside and taking in the abundance of my garden. There were more blooms through the spring and summer than I’ve had in years. What I thought was a weed growing in one of my pots turned out to be a wild morning glory plant, which flourished and its golden blooms brought a smile each time I glanced at it. Bees and butterflies visited the morning glory (or maybe it’s yellow alder) and the thriving salvia bush as the edge of my patio.
The plant that brought me the most joy though is a fuchsia-colored amaryllis flower. Most of the year this plant consists of long, trailing leaves that hold little appeal. The flower rises on a tall, sturdy stalk though and usually has three or four blooms per stalk. These came from my grandmother’s front yard and they remind me of her, so even when they aren’t blooming they make me happy. This year they bloomed numerous times and made me feel like she was reminding me that no matter what’s going on, it’s all going to be okay because God is still in control.