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.

Apropos Poem

Lucifer in Starlight by George Meredith

On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,
Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
And now upon his western wing he leaned,
Now his huge bulk o’er Afric’s sands careened,
Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
With memory of the old revolt from Awe,
He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
The army of unalterable law.


Have a blessed weekend.

New Social Media Site

As I mentioned in a previous post, writers need to plan for the days ahead as the lawmakers deal with the censorship issues. I was undecided on which to use as a backup to Twitter, knowing that it may in the days ahead become my main social media site. I have even contemplated getting off of social media if Twitter bit the dust.

I had tried Parler a year or two ago, but did not stay long. But today I watched Congressman Devin Nunes’s interview with the CEO and founder John Matze. One major thing that Nunes mentioned was a user can parley (their version of tweet) up to 1,000 characters – enough for almost a short story.

Since I am currently reading John Dufresne’s FLASH!, this caught my attention. That is roughly enough space for a flash fiction story. And they are working on monetizing the platform very soon.

This is not an endorsement: I just opened my account today. But I am hopeful for a productive and censorship free experience – a moral one! – but censorship free. The user interface is much more agreeable than Twitter. My handle is @hrenell.

Parler is a French verb meaning to speak.

Writing Quotes – June 3

When you write to publish, you establish a connection with your readers and owe them a valuable read. That is what builds community, you and the reader together…Many a poet has inspired world leaders to reconsider a policy position or expand their belief system. Many of our Presidents have been strongly influenced by their favorite poets.

Denny Lyon

Through daring images and bold metaphors rooted in the Word, they guide us to a profound self-esteem within an enlarged vision of the magnitude of the Divine.

Brennan Manning

New Book On My Bookshelf

It took me 9 months to read Jane Eyre. During that time, I took breaks to read something lighter. Today I went to the local bookstore to find another diversion from Walden and picked up The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson. This is her second novel; she wrote Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which I might read later.

When I pick a book, I flip though the pages to see if there is a lot of profanity. I have tossed books that did. To me, it is distracting, and shows the lack of creativity in addressing issues. After I pick one, I read the endorsements to give me a feel for what I am about to read.

This book has themes that interest me: small town life, war romance, and independent women. I have read the first few pages and her writing style is very poetic. I can tell I am going to enjoy this immensely.


Wait on the LORD: Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD.

Psalms 27:14 NKJV