Making Sabbath Real

I've shared a bit from the excellent Dallas Willard essay "The Key to the Keys of the Kingdom" before, but now I'd like to share a bit more. In this excerpt, Willard highlights three practices dear to Shizuka Blog and its likeminded blog-brethren -- solitude, silence, and fasting. (The emphases are my own.)
Three practices or spiritual disciplines are especially helpful in making Sabbath real in the midst of our life: Solitude, Silence, and Fasting. These are three of the central disciplines of abstinence long practiced by the followers of Jesus to help them find and keep solid footing in the kingdom that cannot be moved--in the midst of a busy and productive life, or even a life of trial, conflict and frustration.

For most of us, Sabbath will not become possible without extensive, regular practice of solitude. That is, we must practice time alone, out of contact with others, in a comfortable setting outdoors or indoors, doing no work. We must not take our work with us, even in the form of bible study, prayer or sermon preparation, for then we will not be alone. An afternoon walking by a stream or on the beach, in the mountains, or sitting in a comfortable room or yard, is a good way to start. This should become a weekly practice. Then perhaps a day, or a day and a night, in a retreat center where we can be alone. Then perhaps a weekend or a week, as wisdom dictates.
This will be pretty scary for most of us. But we must not try to get God to "do something" to fill up our time. That will only throw us back into work. The command is: "Do no work." Just make space. Attend to what is around you. Learn that you don't have to do to be. Accept the grace of doing nothing. Stay with it until you stop jerking and squirming.

Solitude well practiced will break the power of busyness, haste, isolation and loneliness. You will see that the world is not on you shoulders after all. You will find yourself and God will find you in new ways. Joy and peace will begin to bubble up within you and arrive from things and events around you. Praise and prayer will come to you and from within you. The soul anchor established in solitude will remain solid when you return to your ordinary life with others.

Silence also brings Sabbath to you. Silence means quietness, freedom from sounds except natural ones like breathing, bird songs and wind and water moving. It also means not talking. Silence completes solitude, for without it you cannot be alone. You remain subject to the pulls and pushes of a world that exhaust you and keep you in bondage, distracting you from God and your own soul. Far from being a mere absence, silence allows the reality of God to stand in the midst of your life. It is like the wind of eternity blowing in your face. Not for nothing does the Psalmist say: "Be still and know that I am God." God does not ordinarily compete for our attention. In silence we come to attend.

When we stop talking we abandon ourselves to reality and to God. We position ourselves to attend rather than to adjust things with our words. We stop our shaping and negotiating, or "spinning." How much of our energy goes into that! We let things stand. We trust God with what others shall think. Of course there is a time to talk, as there is a time to be with others. But we are not safe and rich in talk and companionship unless our souls are strong in solitude and silence. If we have heard the good news and have come to trust our Savior, He will meet with us through extensive solitude and silence to stabilize his love, joy and peace in us. His character will increasingly become ours--easily, thoroughly. You rarely find any person who has made great progress in the spiritual life that did not have much time in solitude and silence.

Good stuff. But I dare say, if my own experience is any fair indicator, too much solitude can be just as detrimental to one's spiritual health as too little.