I have been reading Henri Nouwen’s book “Reaching out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life”.  The first movement is from loneliness to solitude.  I have been reflecting on the whole loneliness issue as Tamara and I were talking about it a few days ago.  As I was reading this afternoon, I came across the following written by Henri Nouwen, and it has given me a very different perspective of loneliness.  Here is what he says…

“But what then can we do with our essential aloneness which so often breaks into our consciousness as the experience of a desperate sense of loneliness?…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 desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.  This requires not only courage but also a strong faith.  As hard as it is to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty.  The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play.

…Often we go to good men and women with our problems in the secret hope that they will take our burden away from us and free us from our loneliness.  Frequently the temporary relief they offer only leads to a stronger recurrence of the same pains when we are again by ourselves.  But sometimes we meet and hear that exceptional person who says:  “Do not run, but be quiet and silent.  Listen attentively to your own struggle.  The answer to your question is hidden in your own heart.””

I kind of look at it like this…when we move to embracing our loneliness and moving it to a releasing solitude, we become our own best friend!