A Difficult Journey


The journey from loneliness to solitude has become one of the hardest things I have done besides my own identity acceptance. You see I love to be around people, I like to get together with friends and have coffee, a glass of good wine or even a good dark beer. Conversations with others make my life more interesting an create a safe and comfortable space for me. People has been the fuel of my daily life. I value quite times and long hiking, but in every day of the week I would like to be surrounded by people, activities, dinners, coffee times and everything that could easy my mind. One of the strongest weakness I have is to be a people pleaser, always trying to be nice with everybody else in order to have a more pleasant time during my life in this earth. Confrontation? This word is clearly not in my dictionary.

Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun days that we do not have to even see loneliness as a problem but as stage to find ourselves, “Cool loneliness allows us to look honestly and without aggression to our minds. We can gradually drop our ideas of who we think we ought to be, or who we think we want to be, or who we think other people think we want to be or ought to be. We give it up and just look directly with compassion and humor at who we are. Then loneliness is not threat and heartache, no punishment” Henry Nouwen quotes, “By running away from our loneliness and by trying to distract ourselves with people and special experiences, we do not realistically deal with our human predicament”.

In the last months I have found myself enduring many moments of loneliness, excruciating seconds, minutes and hours that created a space where I encounter the most difficult person: myself. So for the first time in my life I am diving into an unknown territory fill of new feelings, new and old fears, and for certain many uncertainties. Some days are good, others are not as good but my goal is to learn from my loneliness, to accept it in order to create a space of solitude. What I mean of solitude is the discovery of my inner sanctuary so I can accept myself as a unique person with everything that makes myself as a great and wonderful creation. Solitude is the space where loneliness starts to create; the space where life is reborn; where I can say “yes” to who I am without being embarrassed, guilty or ashamed. “Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the dessert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude”(Nouwen)

I can have the words of many people, the wisdom of teachers, the encouragements of friends, or even the words of people that without asking them, they feel with the right to say something or even advice you with what they think should be the best way to follow, “but the real spiritual guide is the one who, instead of advising us what to do or to whom to go, offers us a chance to stay alone and take the risk of entering into our own experiences” (Nouwen)

So being alone or feeling loneliness is not a bad place to be, but the start of a new journey to solitude: to go deeper in myself, attentive to every bump in the road, to be able to listen with my heart instead of my mind, to be able for the first time to be present with myself and not be afraid. To rebuild my life based in my inner love so I can also build my own local community; and “ to pay attention to the word and the words of others instead of selecting just those remarks and events that bring us immediate satisfaction to our own cravings” (Nouwen)

So if you are the kind of person that love to ask questions and would like to know more, if you are the one who always have the best advice to give or the most accurate Bible verse to share; I am sorry to disappoint you but according to Nouwen, who has become my spiritual director, “The mystery of love is that it protects and respects the aloneness of the other and creates the free space where he can convert his loneliness into a solitude that can be shared”

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2 thoughts on “A Difficult Journey

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  1. Miquel,

    I received much from Henri Nouwen. I knew him while at Yale Divinity School, and found that he did help me gently open the door to the gracious presence of God. His shared perspectives on compassion and pictures of an intimate walk with God were good to receive. So he was an open door for me, but I needed a more aggressive God to rescue me from my self, and though Nouwen would never desire for anyone to float in one’s own contemplations and not find freedom, unless I ran into a more “forward” and “meddling” God through a group of people who dared to confront me with truth about me and about God–I would not have been given by grace some great victories that kept me in myself. I am sort of a half-contemplative person. I found I can grow through some contemplative reading, and for years kept a Nouwen book of reflections in my bathroom, but I also had to have some more assertive, meddling, and traditionally pointed guides to prick me into God’s salvation.

    Jay

  2. Jay,

    Thank you for your kind words, I have learned so much for you and your grace towards me, so the words I get from are being taken to learn from it. But I would like to clarify that I do not follow the teachings of Henry Nouwen of Brennan Manning, I learned from them, applied them into my understanding of God, Christ and life. Their way to see grace,love, humanity, brokenness, vulnerability has helped to re-discovered the words of Christ so I can live a simpler life. I am a human being, and as one I need the directions of other human beings who have encounter the ways of God’s grace in their lives. I know that my ultimate goal is to find my wholeness in Christ and at the end of the day there are no word of anybody else except the ones that Christ whispers to me in the loneliness of my soul and spirit. I like to contemplate life in itself, the fragility of our human nature, and the intensity that a time of solitude gives me.I am not trying to0 change people’s mentality, this is just my own journey and through the words of these two men and many others can learn to make new steps in life. Jay I know I have found my freedom in God, it may be not the freedom people would like to see in me (according to their own believes), but the true acceptance to become a beloved one; the road of salvation who takes me step by step to realized the most wonderful question I will be asked when I get in His presence: Do you ever realized how much I loved you?.

    Peace!!

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