Holiday seasons can be a lonely time for some people, but the loneliness I’m talking about is long-term and reside in each of us. Even at birth, we were separated from God due to original sin, giving birth to our inner loneliness. We are afraid of it and run from our feelings of insufficiency. We tend to avoid situations that make us feel incapable because we fear being left by ourselves, separated from others who are around us. Deep inside, we want to overcome this but are not sure how to.
I’ve been doing a little reading by Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche Communities. He saw loneliness everyday in psychiatric hospitals where it was in many of their eyes. He said in his book Becoming Human: “I believe that loneliness is something essential to human nature; it can only be covered over, it can never actually go away. Loneliness is part of being human, because there is nothing in existence that can completely fulfill the needs of the human heart.”
Loneliness isn’t so bad if we can harness it for positive change in others and in ourselves. It can act as a reason that compels us to seek to overcome this inner void of loneliness. Example: mystics, prophets, poets, artists, do not always fit the normal mold of society. They’ve found a way to use their gifts to express meaning through creative work in seeking to deepen their spirituality and hearing from God, or expressing creativity through their inner inspiration. We can do the same but using our unique gifts to better the well-being of others around us. We then have purpose in being together within community.
First, we need to change but change can be hard. We don’t like change because we prefer to control everything. The comfort in being able to predict everything comes with a cost. If we refuse to change, we will stagnate as human beings
Vanier said, “In human beings, there is a constant tension between order and disorder, connectedness and loneliness, evolution and revolution, security and insecurity…. When we refuse to accept that they are the price of change, we close the door on many possibilities for ourselves; our lives become lessened, we are less than fully human.” I don’t know about you, but as for me, I wish to become a better human being.
Prayer: God, help me be a better human being. Show me the sacredness in each human being. Help me to grow in a sense of belongingness with my fellow neighbours, and empower me to make the right choices by seeking truth and meaning together with others. Amen.
Ref. Jean Vanier, Becoming Human. House of Anansi Press, 2008. (pp. 7-8, 12-13).