I live in community and know first hand the value of communal life. My religious sisters have taught me much about the love of God. Even Christians who are not called to religious life, however, learn the importance of community in one form or another (though this may not be community under one roof), since we are not made for isolation.
Besides the need we have for each other in daily life, as well as in navigating the obstacles on our spiritual path, community and communion are witnesses to our oneness in Christ. Community proclaims that in a world fraught with hatred and division, it is truly possible to love one another.
Solitude, on the other hand, reflects the reality that we are not only one with each other, we are also unique in all of creation. And very practically speaking, solitude recognizes our boundaries as human beings. We cannot be available to others twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Physically and mentally, we cannot sustain an intensity of presence to other people all the time.
Solitude also honors our need to be alone with God, just as in the human context of relationship, we need to be alone at times with people we love. And solitude bows before the fact that there is a deep place inside us which is accessible to God alone.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
Indeed, those who are far from you will perish;
you put an end to those who are false to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
to tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:25-28)