Accepting a fundamental aloneness

There is a wisdom in having moments of quiet in our lives. Learning to stay – being by ourselves and being comfortable with that –  is a prerequisite for all work and any relationships. We are good at distracting ourselves and a good number of the problems which we experience  are due to this capacity for distraction. We can easily identify with the flow that these activities cause.  But there is deeper part of ourselves. When we stop working, slow down and stop moving, and let go of distracting ourselves, we are getting in touch with the  silence within and a fundamental truth about our human condition:

All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love.

Henri Nouwen

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