I aspire to be someone who is content to be alone… just me and God. If we aren’t seeking to be alone (as in “I just want 5 minutes to myself and the kids won’t even let me go to the bathroom in peace!”), then alone has the potential to be sad, uncomfortable or even scary. Many of us aren’t even comfortable with silence and need to have the TV or music on in the background just for companionship.
Here’s the rub, we are relational creatures, but the great mystics (including Jesus) and spiritual teachers of the world have told us over and over again that there is no greater relationship than one with the Divine. They tell us it is the only one we really need to sustain us through any and all of life’s occurrences. It just doesn’t seem to be that easy, clearly they didn’t understand that we like to have a physical presence to talk back to us, to touch us, to hold us and to care for us!
But we’ve all known people who have come to the end of their lives, are without immediate family and friends, and yet exude a sense of joy, love and peace. How do they do that? In Psalm 86, the author cries out, “Teach me your ways, O God, that I might learn to walk with you alone.”
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I have times when I can be alone, just me and God, and content. But is that because my family and friends aren’t gone for good? Is it because that quiet time is such a nice change of pace? Is it because my ego is content at the moment to let my spiritual side take the wheel? Other times my ego slaps my spiritual side back into the dark corner of my consciousness and tells it to stay there because it is time to be worried or anxious or scared or lost or lonely.
The Buddha said, “In the discipline of living alone, it is the silence of solitude that is wisdom. When the solitude becomes a source of delight then it shines in all the ten directions. Listen to the sound of water. Listen to the water running through chasms and rocks. It is the minor streams that make a great noise. The great waters flow silently. This is the sound of wisdom.”
I love this imagery, that somewhere within us is a river running silently and deep filled with the wisdom of the ages if we would just allow ourselves to sink into solitude and silence far enough to find it.
John O’Donohue’s blessing for loneliness urges us not to avoid the silence of being alone, but to sink into it so that it dissolves the dross – the unnecessary stuff of our fears, regrets, pain and worries – sink so deep into the dark blackness of our selves that we can again find the blue flower that holds the mystical light which will illuminate in you the glimmer of springtime.
In other words, we are never alone, for the voice of Wisdom, the Something More, the Authentic Self, the Ancient One is within us at all times. It is when we are disconnected from our Source that we feel most lost and alone.
Sounds simple, but I know it’s not. Still, I’m working on staying connected that I might be one of those people who sparkle with joy, sing with love and smile with knowing.