In one of the Lenten readings by Nouwen in From Fear to Love, the subject of loneliness is discussed. He says that there are two kinds of loneliness. And I have been thinking about the second kind—it is the kind that one feels when longing for God. Nouwen uses the words of St. John of the Cross and calls this kind of loneliness the dark night of the soul.
For myself, the loneliness speaks of the distance that exists between my Creator and me—the result of being separated, of being disconnected, of not being one. There is a longing for closeness that seems just out of reach. It is not the kind of loneliness that comes from needing interaction or conversation. It is the kind of loneliness that comes from recognizing that something is lost or lacking or missing. It is the kind of loneliness that comes from not being whole or complete and knowing that there is that One who is the missing piece. It is the loneliness that realizes that something is just within reach but is unable to grasp it.
It is the loneliness of Presence. I can be present and in the Presence, but the Presence is elusive and dark. It is a loneliness that knows the Presence is near, but it is not quite near enough. There is no earthly cure for this kind of loneliness. It is the predicament of the human soul, the human heart.