I’ve been thinking a lot lately about loneliness. Being alone is not the same as loneliness. Lots of times I can be happily alone, but sometimes I tip over into a darker feeling. Conversely, I can be very lonely with people talking all around me. Loneliness, it seems to me, is a mix of yearning for connection and fearing it might not happen. Sometimes the yearning predominates, and sometimes the fear.
Today I want to talk about the first aspect.
Yearning for connection is not a bad thing. It can be the yearning for human connection - for a touch, a phone call, a voice. It can also be the yearning for a more spiritual kind of connection. Sometimes I find that tapping into the yearning itself is a difficult but very fruitful way to open up to love. As the 14th century Persian poet Hafiz said so eloquently,
My Eyes So Soft
Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly
let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of god
In this way, if I sit with the loneliness, I can feel a young voice inside of me, my inner child, calling out for connection with the universe – whether you call it god or spirit or universal love. When I fully acknowledge and feel that longing and ache in my heart, then sometimes I also can hold the inner child’s yearning, and sometimes miraculously I feel the love of the universe and of other people flow into me and through me.