Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Yesterday's Lenten reading was an uncanny experience. It was one of those this-is-unbelievable moments, one of those how-did-this-happen moments. I had been lying on my bed with my journal doing a bit of reflecting on my day and my present state of mind. It was a reflective prayer. My thoughts and feelings in this reflective moment? Loneliness.
I was feeling extremely lonely and contemplating what it meant for me to be experiencing such a deep loneliness. It was as though nothing in the world could satisfy or appease this loneliness. I began to wonder if I had eaten something that disturbed my hormones or upset my mental state. I wondered if I was unsettled because of the change in weather or because spring had come. It may be that all of these things were affecting my mood. But then I began to think about people.
I wasn't thinking about just some people, but all people. There was a longing for people, for something more than what exists between people who know each other or love each other or are acquainted with each other or are intimate with each other. It was a longing for something deeper, for something more long lasting, more meaningful. I couldn't really put the kind of longing that I felt into words, but there it was--a sense of wanting to be one with all of humanity but knowing the distance that separates all of us. It came to me as loneliness.
And then I picked up From Fear to Love by Henri Nouwen and opened to the Lenten reading for the day. There was the title, "Lonely with God." I write it here for you to read:
"The more you come to know God, the lonelier you may become because your heart is too small to contain the love of God. You move into a 'second loneliness,' a very painful time that often springs from the loss of an important relationship or dream. Only in that place of pain can you discover a much deeper sense of belonging that is more intimate than any belonging the world can offer. It comes from the depths of loneliness and moves us to true 'communion' with God. What you may first experience as the highest level of separation may be revealed to you as the highest level of becoming one with the human family.
Mysteriously, it is within the experience of alienation where the greatest loneliness and the greatest solidarity with the human condition come together. When we experience our loneliness as a call to be deeply connected with the human race, we are growing to become more like the father in the parable, and more like the Father Divine."
I reread these words three times. I can't explain how these words happened to be the reading of the day, or how it is they spoke exactly to the loneliness of the moment. But I believe that it was one of those mysterious God things that takes us by surprise and causes an internal shift that changes us forever.
God came right down onto the page and said, "Lisa, this is a normal spiritual experience. Be in the moment and feel the loneliness. It is the loneliness of humanity."
Posted by Lisa Gonzales-Barnes