Wednesday, January 12, 2005


My earliest recollections of emotions in my childhood are of loneliness. By the time I entered high school it was a pervasive and deep painful throb, like an ear ache in my spirit. The mystery was that no one would have guessed. I was constantly surrounded by people. They seemed to like me, I was wellll.... popular, even though I was small, goony, geeky and eccentric.
I had a knack for making people laugh. People like to laugh, I figured out early in my life, and as we moved from state to state and country to country with the Navy, I grew to depend on that talent to be sure I wasn't alone in a new place.

But there was a deep suspicion within me. Actually, not a suspicion but a grudging acceptance of a reality I could not bear: people didn't like ME, they liked what I decided to show them, which was a fake "me", or at best, only a part of me that I knew people would like. Their acceptance was a lie... not that they were faking it, I was...they really liked what they thought I was, I just knew that wasn't me they liked. So, in the midst of people who "liked me" I was lonely.

Fast forward, or whatever you do to a DVD now... a few decades, and now I see a distinction between lonely and alone that is grounded in God. Alone is a choice. Lonely is a consequence.
A person can be alone but not lonely. A person can be surrounded by friends, family, and even saints and be lonely.

We are not intended to function with loneliness. God is Trinity. We are created in His image, that is, for communion, love, community, union, unity and mutuality. Apart from that God has no existence, apart from that we do not "exist" even though we might be breathing. Loneliness is the ultimate fear factor. To be alone means we are rejected. To be alone means our acceptance by other people is based on a lie, an unreality. It is all a consequence of the fall, of sin, of the fear of death. Death is not merely stopping breathing, it is being cut off from everything and every one. We'll do almost anything to keep even a fake relationship because bad breath is better than no breath at all. Fake acceptance is better than real rejection.
An illusion of love and communion is better than the substance of dark silence in the middle of the night. I think that is why sex sells so well in our culture...we are lonelier than ever and its better to wrestle with a warm body with no soul than to wrestle with a pillow in the middle of the night within your own soul.

The greatest risk the human being can take is not eating cow intestines or being covered with cockroaches. It is being real. The problem is, the fear is, if you are real, you get real responses.
Most of us cannot face reality, so we dance around it.

So, yes. The entire human race is afraid of being alone. But much of the human race cannot
face the fact they are indeed alone and are grasping at illusions and images, relationships of fog that obscure the bleak landscape within them. The sickness of the soul is to live without real love.

And the only cure for the soul is Truth.


almost10 said...

Father Jonah Paffhausen talked to us about finding that cure, except he put it into terms of removing the countless masks of false personalities that we've caked over our true selves (self). So many of us have to work so hard to find the cure to all our years of hard work.

Grace said...

Boy, your autobiographical sketch absolutely could've been mine. My dad was in the military too, and we moved every couple years. I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Anyway, great post as always. I ended up posting about it myself.
(New blog location:

Anonymous said...

As strangers in a strange land, we are fortunate to have a few people who we find a home with, even though our home is not in this world. Maybe this aloneness is necessary so that that we will remember our death and our final return to our home with God, His saints, angels, and our departed loved ones.