by Stephen Whitney

This content is part of a series.

Alone in Solitude (3 of 5)
Series: Intimacy with the Almighty
Stephen Whitney
I Kings 19:11-13

In November of 2000 writer John Daniel began a five month self-imposed solitude in the mountains of southwestern Oregon where he stayed in a 400 square foot cabin was made of rough-sawn planks and plywood with three small rooms. When he first arrived he was so happy that the first messages he left for his wife made her a little angry that he didn't miss her more.

While fishing in early December, Daniel was surprised to hear somewhere down the river an orchestra playing Beethoven's ''Ode to Joy.'' The orchestra, of course, wasn't real. The music went away when he hiked up to the cabin, but it came back frequently. Sometimes it was bagpipes playing the ''Marine Hymn,'' other times a chorus singing ''The Battle Hymn of the Republic.''

Seventy-seven days into his search for deep solitude Daniel was hard up against it. There was no more comfort to be found in chopping wood, tending the garden, talking long tramps through the woods hunting for grouse, fishing for steelhead or even giving himself a buzz cut with the electric clippers.

Cranky and restless, he rummaged through the newspapers in the kindling box next to the wood stove for a crossword puzzle. But they were all too easy; none of them were just right.

Finally, he reached for a cookbook, set it on the counter, closed his eyes and let the pages fall open by themselves. When he opened his eyes he was looking at a recipe for Sticky Buns. ''I ate half of that pan the first night,'' Daniel recalled with satisfaction. ''It gave me heartburn, but I didn't care. The smell of rising bread is so healing.''

Daniel returned after five months with a 294 page manuscript titled, The Rogue River: A Winter of Solitude and Memory.

What does solitude do for us?
- Physically it helps us to take a break from our routine.
- Emotionally it allows us to focus on our feelings.
- Mentally it helps us discover our ...

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