I often struggle with loneliness. Despite the fact that I have lived alone for the past ten years, the solitariness of being single is at times overwhelming. In his meditation for January 22 in Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith, the late Henry Nouwen has this to offer:
Community Supported by Solitude
Solitude greeting solitude, that’s what community is all about. Community is not the place where we are no longer alone but the place where we respect, protect and reverently greet one another’s aloneness. When we allow our aloneness to lead us into solitude, our solitude will enable us to rejoice in the solitude of others. Our solitude roots us in our own hearts. Instead of making us yearn for company that will offer us immediate satisfaction, solitude makes us claim our center and empowers us to call others to claim theirs. Our various solitudes are like strong, straight pillars that hold up the roof of our communal house. Thus, solitude always strengthens community.
I venture that Nouwen would also say the layer between solitude and community — relationship with another — is likewise nurtured by the fruits of allowing our aloneness to lead us into solitude. When we know and are at home at that center where we can breathe deeply and profoundly and simply be who we are — it is then that we are best able to move beyond our center and relate with the “other.”
And in this relating, Love lives most fully.
All Images © 2012 Timothy MacGeorge