LOTUS OF THE HEART
All is Welcome Here
Living in Love beyond Beliefs
I recall, almost 30 years ago, being at a retreat. I was a Professor of Religion and went to the retreat with some staff and a large group of students from the college. One day, I walked off alone, wanting to be alone. A kind young lady, a student, ended up at the same place. Upon seeing me apart, alone, she asked, "What's wrong, that you are here by yourself?" I was irritated, while now I would find it humorous. Possibly, then, I was irritated for I had just started spiritual practice of silence and solitude. As most who begin a serious spiritual path, I was taking it very seriously, too much so, possibly. Also, I was ending my career, and that was not helping my being less serious about seeking time apart. To be apart seemed almost a strategy to protect myself during the uncertainty of that time. Regardless, I thought it strange, and still do, that there would be some automatic association of someone wanting time to himself or herself, not with the crowd, as a sign of something wrong. Yet, that would mean, to be with others, would mean, apparently, all is apparently okay.
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'We have been made to believe that feelings, emotions, and even the inner stirrings of our soul have to be shared with others. ... In fact, people who prefer to keep to themselves and do not expose their interior life tend to create uneasiness and are often considered inhibited, asocial, or simply odd. But let us at least raise the question of whether our lavish ways of sharing are not more compulsive than virtuous, that instead of creating community they tend to flatten out our life together.'
*Henri J. M. Nouwen. The Way of the Heart.
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Could we not, at least agree, there is a decided bias against persons who enjoy solitude and silence? I think such bias is clear. Persons of apartness may remind us all that our sharing is not so much a sharing of Love but of our own fear of who we are, what Grace is, and of the Silence without which words lose power and meaning, and become little more than a defense against Life, rather than an expression of fellowship. Could it be a person who enjoys solitude and quiet is actually showing forth a sign that all is, indeed, okay, and Life is right, and one is at peace with Life, not needing others but loving them even from the apartness, from the deep place of the Heart?