Friday, August 04, 2006

Loneliness remembers

In high school I really liked Dionne Warwick's music. That was long before the dial-a-medium ads she did in recent years. A lesser known Burt Bacharach song sung by Dionne Warwick is Loneliness Remembers (What Happiness Forgets). I have the tune and that line running through my head. But what does that really mean?

In A Tree Full of Angels, Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary, Macrina Wiederkehr (a Benedictine sister) speaks of loneliness:
Except for my lonely moments, I think I could quite easily forget that I am not a separate existence apart from God. My loneliness attracts me to the feet of Jesus. Like a magnet I am drawn there, longing to be all one with God. The separateness I keep choosing makes me desperately homesick, and so I am willing, at last, to surrender my divided heart...

My loneliness blesses me because it shows me that I'm not enough all by myself,and so I am impelled to reach out my arms and heart to God and to others. My loneliness blesses me because it encourages me to allow myself to be vulnerable. My loneliness blesses me because it won't let me hide in the illusion of my self-sufficiency.

If you're hungry for growth, spend time with your loneliness.

If "loneliness remembers what happiness forgets" then the emptiness of loneliness reminds me of what happiness does not remind me of. That God is more, is greater, fuller--limitless, even. When I am spent He is still full and longing for me to turn, in my vulnerability and scatteredness, to His vast heart of loving provision for my soul. When I feel forsaken and alone--in those moments-I am gifted with an innate holy prodding to submit to no other substitute for satisfaction or comfort. So as great as happiness is in its moment, loneliness by contrast, is not a dead end. It is a navigational aid.


Blogger Susan said...

I just had a conversation with my husband about loneliness - I was telling him that I've never experienced it.

I have no idea what it feels like. With a close family growing up, people always coming and going in the house, many friends, consecutive boyfriends since the early teens, then husbands, and now children - I just don't know what it feels like.

The best I can do is to draw on alone-ness, which I savor. It's here that I meet God, so I really am never completely alone, nor do I want to be. I have to lock myself in a room, take a walk, sit outside, or rely on bathroom breaks to get that precious time. (Yes, I've decided that it isn't a sacrilege to meet God in the "Water Closet".) But in that time, I try to be honest, open, basic, humble (easy in the WC) and unguarded. Ready to receive whatever He's got for me. Ready to give whatever He asks.

The hardest thing about meeting God in aloneness vs. loneliness, is the taming of the ego. I don't feel alone, therefore I don't feel any void that needs filling from Him. I have to consciously look to Him first for all my needs. That's hard to remember - that I'm not doing this all for myself (although he continues to gently remind me of this in the realm of my finances). That my friends and family don't do it all for me. I have to seek Him consciously as a Creator and Friend and Father and Savior and Comforter and Consigliere.

I have a hunger for intimacy with Him that comes from just "being". Ravi Zacharias says in his book, Jesus Among Other Gods, that our purpose in life is Worship. I think that's true. I can think of nothing else more fulfilling. Also, nothing else requires the full surrender of the ego (which I'm sad to say takes much practice on my part). Double whammy!

9:29 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Susan, Some of us can feel lonely even in a crowd! But, maybe "lonely" isn't the best word, for your thinking, to require "the full surrender of the ego" as you put it. Maybe it's neediness for something outside yourself (like wisdom or peace, etc.) that you know at a certain point can only come from God. Or feeling desperate for filling and empowering by the Spirit cause you're tired of doing it your own way on your own steam, etc. I guess these could describe similar voids that prompt us to "remember" God. Likewise that hunger for intimacy that you pointed out.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

An anonymous reader sent this comment to me:

"what a concept, i have always viewed my loneliness as the chief enemy of my soul. it is a constant reminder that i must be warped, and avoided. i have always felt responsible for my loneliness, that if i changed enough then the loneliness would go away, that loneliness is primarily caused by not having friends. I am really scared to be lonely.

let me ponder..."

10:54 PM  
Blogger Wes Roberts said...

...glad to be a part of "the chorus" with you and yours. Thankful for this post from what you are gaining from this Sister. Blessings.......

1:30 PM  

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