I understand, in many respects, the way that a person can feel alone in a crowd.
I think it takes a toll on someone to constantly be surrounded by others, and to never have a perfect sense of solitude. Of course, “it is not good that man should be alone”…
…But what of those who sequester themselves or live in isolation away from others? What about the monks or hermits or cloistered nuns resolved to take initiatives indoors, to live out their faith in what seems like aloneness?
To be with others is important, but it is also meaningful when we find ourselves alone.
At least, some of us may turn to the experience of aloneness with God, and feel that it is naturally a source of peace and contentment. Without it, we become tired of others, and being constantly surrounded means that you are never attending to yourself when you need to. Sometimes people become a distraction from responding to our internal distresses and fears and hurts. Sometimes… we just get too caught up in the crowd. And our desire to isolate ourselves becomes more about withdrawing from others, and refusing contact with them, than it is about responding to our desire to love.
The underlying principle here is, ‘it takes three’. I guess it amounts to very little when we are with somebody but are never completely ourselves, or ourselves for them. It takes the presence of God to unite people in such a way that there is no boundary to the love between them, and that companionship becomes fruitful because you are willing to be beside them, with the fullness of your heart. When we are with someone, we are also with them with God. And so, there are three persons in every relationship between two people.
But it may be necessary to be alone with God every other time, so that this can happen.
I guess the simplest way to explain this is that you cannot love other people truly enough without God helping you love them. I have realised that the more you encounter the heart of Jesus, the more you realise how futile your human love can be. To love extraordinarily, as in, to love people who bother you or who you don’t even like, or to love people you find difficult to understand, you need to search for the Love that knows no boundaries. To love with your whole being is tiring if you do not have that wholeness from the beginning. Jesus makes you whole. And Jesus will teach you.
I realise how small I am in my giving to others, and that I am yet to learn what it means to love others with no restrictions, without judgment or fear, without shame, and with a willingness to sacrifice completely what is required of me to give that other person life. I am small. And I know that I need Jesus to help me with this. But it takes an aloneness with God who loves us into existence, to breathe His love into me. And from this Love, I am able to give to others.
The world is quickly turning into a place where social interaction is difficult to avoid, because we are now present not only in the physical realm but in virtual ones. And it’s problematic to ‘turn off your phone’ because you’ve come to ‘need’ certain things to progress in every-day life.
But it takes a very simple decision to refrain from speaking when you don’t need to, and to listen more to the voice of silence in our hearts, that desperately calls out to us. And sometimes that requires solitude… and going away….so you can come back and love others a lot better than you did before.
I would say that monks, cloistered nuns and hermits so close to God’s beating Heart are miracles given to a community today so lost in the world of ‘others’, that refuses to turn to the source of true Communion.
The miracle of solitude is that it is strengthening, and allows us to see and hear God in others when we encounter them, ever more clearly… because we have learnt in moments of silence and aloneness to recognise God’s voice.
It can be difficult to take yourself away from others if that is what you need right this moment. Though, the spirit of wisdom is essential to discerning whether this is a pure desire or not. But it is not difficult – nor will it ever be – to turn to God’s Heart… and to make use of times when you do feel alone or small.
I see God calling us ever more so into His Love when we do search for Him, when we do concentrate on solace and peace… even if it means letting go, or being with-out… so we can finally reconcile with ourselves, and become true friends and true lovers for the world.
The Holy Spirit found the eleven disciples and Mary, His mother, together in one place… in the upper room where they were staying, silently praying.
And the Holy Spirit rested upon them.
And from then on, they were able to speak out into the world about the Truth. And to love, without measure.