Sunday, 17 February 2008

Walking alone ...

Whoever we are, if we live without being able to share thoughts and feelings with at least one other person, we are living alone.
To allow someone else to get to know us, to understand what matters to us, what makes us joyful and sad, angry or embarrassed, what our strengths and weaknesses are, our hopes and fears, our ambitions, failures and regrets; this is to have a real friend.
Some people seem able to share most of these things with almost everyone they get to know, but part of that apparent ease of opening up may be their own building of a protective wall which, while appearing to do the opposite, successfully keeps something hidden from others: something unspoken and unsuspected. Such people are surrounded by friends but may still lack a real and complete friendship.
If we do have just one person in our lives with whom we share everything, it may be a husband or wife, or a ‘partner’ of similar importance or standing in our lives; it may be a parent or sibling, a close friend, or even someone we have come to trust through a professional relationship: a doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Whoever it may be, we benefit from their presence in our lives and from our ability to share ourselves with them.

Often, however, when we are conscious of our lives being overlaid by something beyond the world’s reasoning, and when we find ourselves on some form of spiritual journey, we do not know quite how to tell someone else about it. The person or persons with whom we thought we could share almost anything are proved to be just that; we can share almost everything, but this is somehow different. How do we even bring up the subject ? We have never mentioned this sort of thing before, so how do we know that they will even understand what we are talking about? – especially as we scarcely know how to explain what we are thinking and feeling.

And might it even be something that will come between us and result in a weakening or even the loss of a valued friendship?
Perhaps we regard the risk as too great, and, being troubled by the inner conflict, we remain silent.
The relationship, while being outwardly unchanged, is suddenly not enough: it is recognized as being incomplete.

Even in friendships with people who are known to foster the spiritual dimension or their lives, the surface is easy enough to talk about: we can examine it together, polish it, bounce ideas off it, and enjoy the interaction as well as the benefits it brings, but wherever we are on our journey, and however great or small the number of persons with whom we meet and communicate, without a sharing of the reality of the yearning buried deep in our hearts, we travel alone.

'There is talk which can be a great spiritual help to us - I mean the earnest exchange of ideas about spiritual things;
especially when two souls, well matched in temper and disposition, find themselves drawn together in God.'
(The Imitation of Christ. Thomas a Kempis.)

Being a member of a community provides support and companionship, but of itself does little more, and without the freedom to share our spiritual needs and truths, being a member of a church or a congregation alone is meaningless.
The difficulty encountered in trying to do this accounts for the fact that for many of us it is the attentive stranger who offers the best means of opening up in this way. A priest or pastor who does not know us, a stranger who in some way just registers with us as the right person at that moment – a recognition of God’s provision perhaps? Or, again, a professional consultant of some sort.
M. Scott Peck, himself a psychiatrist, wrote in the Afterword to his book, “In the time since its initial publication, I have been fortunate enough to receive many letters from readers of ‘The Road Less Travelled’. They have been extraordinary letters. … (they) have enriched my life. It has become clear to me that there is a whole network - far more vast than I had dared to believe – of people across the country who have quietly been proceeding for long distances along the less travelled road of spiritual growth. They have thanked me for diminishing their sense of aloneness on the journey. I thank them for the same service.’
That sense of aloneness is unavoidable: it is part of the reality of the journey, but becoming aware that we are not in fact alone enables us to find peace and even joy in our experience of being alone.

This returns me to my very first words written on the web: the opening words of this soliloquy. I repeat them here: -
'Wherever this may lead, I hope it will lead both of us there: not just you, and not just me. We may sojourn here awhile together, but it is in the nature of the very edge that we shall each travel our separate ways towards, or away from our goals. That we share a common destination is the only realization we can truly share, though our meeting, acknowledgement, and passing by, cannot help but feed us and bring that much needed hint of confirmation: - that quiet "Amen" to the sometimes doubted validity of our journey.
Inevitably we shall find ourselves alone at the very edge, but an awareness of other solitary minds close by, each with its own struggle, its own yearning, and its own longing for peace and truth, may enable us to remain close to the edge through every emotion, and in whatever situation or circumstance this day, or tomorrow, may bring.’

Scott Peck acknowledged his own reassurance derived from receiving those letters, while recognizing that the letters had been written because he had provided a similar comfort for others through his written words. Knowing that someone else is there counters all debilitating aspects of isolation.
Similarly, I am encouraged by the knowledge that someone somewhere is reading what I write. I can only assume that whoever spends time reading these words is gaining a form of support or strength from some of what they find; (why else would you spend time here?) However limited that help may be, the result is that we are aware of each other’s existence in a form of spiritual friendship that aids us in our daily toil along the ‘less travelled road’. We are journeying together as members of a loosely knit band of followers, unseen and unknown to one another, but spiritually inseparable.

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

hit counters
Cox Cable High Speed

St Blogs Parish Directory
Religion Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory Religion Blogs - Blog Top Sites - The internets fastest growing blog directory Religion and Spirituality Blog Directory See blogs and businesses for United Kingdom