This is a powerful word, because out sparks such strong emotional reaction; and I believe that it is something that all of us can relate to at some point in our lives. If being alone becomes translated as loneliness, then sadness and desperation will begin to take root. Desperation mode is survival mode, and we will find ourselves reacting to our circumstances instead of creating our circumstances.
Time gives and takes, it builds and breaks down, and it can be a gift if we choose to see it as so.
I start with these words, loneliness and time, because they are in relation to each other. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, though not the same amount of hours in a life; and we all want to make the most of our life. The feeling of loneliness can cause us to enter a place of circular thinking, which in my case, leads to feeling of self-doubt and regret. This is a downward spiral that I have found can rip the hours and the days, which are a gift, away from us.
Now even the darkest of nights lead to a new dawn, and time is reflected best in the form of a new day; though one day may feel lost, a new day is given.
The best book I’ve read this year is Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen.
The theme of this book is rooted in a transformation from loneliness to solitude, and that is what we will focus on. Just as time is a gift, our being alone is truly a gift, because it is in those moments that we can dig deep to discover who we truly are and what passions lie inside of us. A simple word swap can change everything, so we translate loneliness to solitude.
The best thing I can recommend is to go out and get this book, but for the purpose of our time right now; I will share some highlights to inspire you to join me on the path of finding solitude in what has been described as loneliness, starting with probably my favorite excerpt from the book:
“When loneliness is haunting me with it’s possibility of being a threshold instead of a dead end, a new creation instead of a grave, a meeting place instead of an abyss, then time loses it’s desperate clutch on me. Then I no longer have to live in a frenzy of activity, overwhelmed and afraid for the missed opportunity.”
“The more we come to the painful confession of our loneliness, hostilities, and illusions, the more we are able to see solitude, hospitality, and prayer as part of the vision of our life.”
“Does not all creativity ask for a certain encounter with our loneliness, and does not the fear of this encounter severely limit our possible self expression?”
“Friendship and love cannot develop in the form of an anxious clinging to each other. They ask for gentle fearless space in which we can move to and from each other.”
“Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude.”
“Then our life would indeed be a different life because then fate becomes opportunity, wounds a warning and paralysis an invitation to search for deeper sources of vitality. Then we can look for hope in the middle of crying cities, burning hospitals, and desperate parents and children. Then we can cast off the temptation of despair and speak about the fertile tree while witnessing the dying of the seed. Then indeed we can break out of the prison of an anonymous series of events and listen to the God of history who speaks to us in the center our solitude and respond to his ever new call for conversion.”
I hope these words have brought hope and healing, if not for you, then for someone close to you. Let us make the most of the time we have been given, this beautiful gift that lies in each day; and may the moments that we find ourselves feeling alone be transformed into moments of solitude.