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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Loneliness: A disease of our time.

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and God alone.

If we really believe that God not only exists but also is actively present in our lives - healing, teaching, and guiding - we need to set aside a time and space to give God our undivided attention.

Jesus says, "go to your private room and, when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place" (Matt. 6:6).

To live a christian life means to live in the world without belonging to it. It is in solitude that this inner freedom can grow. Jesus went to a lonely place to pray, that is, to grow in the awareness that all the power he had was given to him; that all the words he spoke came from his Father; and that all the works he did were not really his but the works of the One who had sent him.

A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center, easily becomes destructive.

When we cling to the results of our actions as our only way of self identification, then we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we share the gifts of life.

In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of the One who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make a gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone.

It is in solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts.

In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It's there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not property to cling to, but a gift to be received.

In discussing (Solitude and the need for it), three words are important: aloneness, loneliness, and solitude. You and I and all the people are alone.

Aloneness is a natural fact.

No one else in the word is like me: I am unique. No one else feels and experiences the world the way I do: I am alone.

Now, how to deal with my aloneness?

Many people deal with it through loneliness. That means you experience your aloneness as a wound, as something that hurts you, makes you miserable. It makes you cry out, "is there anyone who can help me?" Loneliness is one of the greatest sources of suffering today. It is a disease of our time.

But, as Christians, we are called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift - as God's gift - so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we are loved by God.

It is precisely where we are most alone, most unique, most ourselves, that God is closest to us. That is where we experience God as divine, loving Father, who knows us better that we know ourselves.

Solitude is the way in which we grow into the realization that where we are most alone, we are most loved by God. It is quality of the heart, an inner quality that helps us to accept our aloneness lovingly, as a gift from God.

In that place our activities become activities done for the other. If we accept our aloneness as a a gift from God, and convert it into deep solitude, then out of that solitude we can reach out to other people. We can come together in community, because we don't cling to one another out of loneliness. We don't use or manipulate one another. Rather, we bow to one another's solitude. We recognize one another as people who are called by the same God.

If I find God in my solitude, and you find God in your solitude, then the same God calls us together, and we can become friends. We can form a community, we can sustain a marriage, we can be together without destroying each other by clinging to each other.

Taken From "The only Necessary Thing - living a prayerful life: Henri Nouwen"


Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read that post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting such themes. I like to read blogs like this. By the way add more pics :)