Solitude and community can seem a bit of a contradiction, but Celtic spirituality was earthed in solitude as well as community. The Celts did not see one way of living out their faith as separate from another, but wove them together. Monks lived alone in cells, which were basic stone huts where they could pray. Here's a photo of Skellig Michael, one of the most ancient examples of a Celtic monastic community. It is 9 miles off the coast of County Kerry, Ireland and is the place I'd most like to visit.
Solitude in the monastic tradition, did not cut a person off from the real world, it made them more in tune with it. In fact, a contemporary definition of the word 'monk' described by Ray Simpson is ‘one who separates from everybody in order to be reunited to everyone’.
i love visiting St Cuthbert’s Island, the secluded tidal island alongside the Lindisfarne Priory, where Cuthbert used to retreat to pray. I wrote this prayer whilst standing where his cell is meant to have been:
Lord, make me and island
set apart for you.
Where the rocks of ages
ring out with praise.
Where the waters of your spirit
saturate my soul
and the fire of your presence
burns deep within.