The Blessing of Occasional Solitude
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The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station sits upon two miles of glacial ice at the bottom of the world. It is one of the remotest places on the planet, more than 800 miles from the nearest human beings. A small group of 50 to 150 people gather here to support scientific research done by the United States Antarctic Program. Brett Baddorf is one of them, commissioned as a missionary to the others.
Baddorf expected to find that the silence and solitude of the South Pole would deeply rattle his connection with Christ. Instead, he discovered what he now calls "the blessings of solitude":
I should have known better. Christ frequently withdrew to desolate places [like the desert], often at night. So while our environment elicits plenty of side effects and moments of tension over time, Christians especially here have leaned into, instead of away from, the solitude.
None of the Christians here feel called to spend the rest of their lives in the desert (Antarctica is technically a desert, with little precipitation). But it is impossible to deny the benefits of a season set apart. If anything, it would help to remove a few more of the amenities here, at least if a goal of coming to Antarctica were fostering spiritual growth.
In the modern, non-Antarctic world, it can be difficult to find places to be alone. We are surrounded by real and virtual community throughout good portions of our days. When we do need to set apart moments of meditation with our God, knowing how to handle stillness can be almost as challenging as finding it.
Brett Baddorf, "Lord of the Night," Christianity Today (January/February, 2018)