Solitude and Community

I decided seven years ago to move from Missouri to Oregon. Roughly my modern day version of the Oregon Trail. I had high hopes of making a new life here, and to be fair, I have, just not in the way I expected.

I am finishing Walden, and in the chapter called “Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors,” Thoreau talks about the lack of human companionship during the snowy winter months, and how he would visit people in his memory for company. It is with the beautiful geography I have made friends, along with a few hardy souls here. In a waiting room a few years ago, I read a travel magazine in which the writer stated the Oregon coast was more beautiful than Costa Rica. Very surprising to me, but understandable.

In The Imaginative Conservative, this article1 confronts the loneliness of our times. It mentions two books that I have read, which stress the importance of community, and more specifically, conservative communities – The Benedictine Option by Rod Dreher, and Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. What these two books also say, is sometimes it is necessary to be in the world but not of it. During Germany’s pre-WWII and beginning years, Bonhoeffer ran an underground seminary, and his book is the story of how it actually worked.

That being said, the hiding of our identities behind masks, the stay at home orders, and the lack of human touch through certain businesses being shut down is cruel and inhumane treatment. Even the most introverted people – that would be me – crave some social time every now and then. Some of us do not have the local option of community. And social media helps.

While on the run from the Catholic Church and living in a redoubt at least part of the time, Martin Luther translated the Latin Bible into German for everyone to read. I have a plaque in my house that artistically says, “Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” I could be bitter about my lack of local friendships, but I see it as a time of learning to be a writer. And as much as I despise this time of separation we are living, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”2


1Hattip to Glynn Young for The Imaginative Conservative link.

2The Romans 8:28 scripture is from the KJV.