Thursday, April 1, 2010
Lenten Reflection on Loneliness
by Fr. A. R. Arboleda, SSP
In its most severe form, loneliness can drive a person to real panic and even to insanity or suicide. In its milder form, loneliness can be felt as nothing more than the vague feeling of being unloved and unwanted, the feeling of not belonging. In both cases, loneliness is something everyone has to grapple with at one time or another. Loneliness is a chronic pain in the neck that comes with being alive and being an individual.
When God created Adam, even if he was already in the garden of Eden, he still said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” What surprises us is that instead of taking away Adam’s loneliness, God created Eve and gave her to Adam to be his partner.
Loneliness, in spite of the terrible feelings that come with it, is still a gift of God. At worst, it is the price we human beings pay for our capacity to think, to reflect, to be aware of our own uniqueness and limitations. At best, loneliness is the other side of our capacity to give and receive love, something that makes us resemble God. If, alone, I should not feel lonely, would I ever reach out to others in love?
Whenever I feel lonely, I try not to ask why anymore, for I know it is part of my being human. I ask, instead, what I may have done to make myself feel isolated, walled-in and alienated from the others. In fact, loneliness comes during those moments of isolation, when around me I have built an invisible wall, perhaps after I have been hurt by others. The same wall protects me from getting hurt again; but, alas, it also imprisons me.
Psychologists say that loneliness is part of our being human because, they say, we are relational by nature. Which means that each of us is not meant to remain an “I” forever. Loneliness urges us to find the “You,” reach out, and, together, form a “We.” Loneliness disappears as soon as we experience a “We-ness” with others.
Mystics, however, say that we experience loneliness because we have been created in the image of likeness of God who is Three Persons. They add that the experience of loneliness is both a prod for us to search for communion with the Trinitarian God through our faith and adherence to the Person of Jesus. It is also an invitation towards establishing community or communion with our fellow human beings.