Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I am Lonely, Lord
by Fr. Jack McArdle
God, Father, Son, and Spirit, I feel very much alone at this moment. I feel like a tiny boat out in the middle of the ocean, without oars or a rudder. Oh, I know there are people who are never far away, but, at times, I experience them as being miles away from me. I don't like being this way, and yet I don't like complaining, or running the risk of wallowing in self-pity. Life hasn't always been like this; indeed, I never thought I'd ever feel so alone in this big world. I turn to you now, because I'm sure there is some connection between my feeling of being adrift, and my failure to be fully conscious and aware of your presence within me. To be honest, this is not something that is part of my everyday living. I often confuse you with Religion, which, most times, doesn't do a great deal for me. Even, while present at a community celebration in church, I can feel totally alone, and not part of anything. I sometimes feel guilty, I must confess, because I seldom seem to turn to you unless I'm looking for something.
Because I don't understand much about how you relate to me, or how best I should pray, I just turn to you, and pour out to you exactly how I feel. I want this to be a moment when I can meet you, and really know and experience your presence.
(Take some time out, at this stage, to relax, to sit back, to follow your breath down into your inner being, so that you can begin to open up inside).
Here I am, Lord. I speak to you in the singular, even though I am thinking of you as being the total Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit. With what faith I have, I certainly know that you can do for me what I never could do for myself. I bow before you, and open up all emptiness and loneliness inside. I feel like a shell right now, and a very brittle and fragile shell at that. I'm not saying that there's nothing inside; it's just that it's all so stirred up, so much stuff spinning around, that I can't make head or tail of it. I don't know where to start, and I feel that I just don't have the mental energy to tackle it.
At this very moment, all I want to do, and, indeed, all I can do, is to come before you, just as I am, and talk to you about it. You can see within me, and you know everything that's going on there. I like to think that you see much more than I can see, and that, maybe, from your point of view, the picture may not look so grim. I like to think, and I would want to believe, that you can make some sense out of it all. All I can tell you is that I'm lonely, I feel very much alone, and, at times, the future scares me. If this is how I feel now, what are things going to be like four or five years from now? Everyday I see people who seem to be bubbling with life; whose lives seem to be brimful of activity, and who appear never to have a dull moment. I can feel totally alone in the most crowded thoroughfare, even as I push my way through the crowds. Because there is life all around me, that makes me suspect that maybe the problem is within myself. It is from within the core of my being that my prayer comes, that my cry for help is spoken. I'm afraid of myself, Lord, because I don't want to fill this inner vacuum with anything else but you. There were times when I tried other ways, but they worked only for a while, and nothing really had changed. Now, with all my heart, I turn to you. Everything I have ever heard about you has had to do with love, friendship, goodness, and compassion, and belonging. I need all of that right now, Lord.
Father, the very word speaks of life and of love. You created me. You know me through and through. You put me together in my mother's womb. You breathed your Spirit into me, and gave me life. I am your child, and I would love to have the heart of a child when I come before you. You clearly see the Inner Child in me that now feels very much alone. I do not believe that that is what you want for me. You gave me life, and you want me to live it to the full. For many many reasons, I seem to have lost my way. I can deal with life so much better when there's something happening. It is much more than just a question of being bored. I don't seem to be going anywhere, and that feeling frightens me. I am also afraid that I might have recourse to any of the many self-medication drugs, to block out the feeling. Somewhere, deep within my soul, there is a spark of hope, and that is what has caused me to turn to you now. I don't understand, but somewhere within, I believe. There is something within that must be of you, because, while not understanding, I feel that you are the only one who can fill the void, who can remove the loneliness. Substances, such as drugs, alcohol, etc., can do that for a while. That was what happened before. This time, however, I want a permanent healing; I want something that will be there to-morrow, and for every to-morrow. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I have had enough. Maybe this is what you were waiting for. Maybe, all this time, you were waiting for me to admit defeat, so that you could take over, and do for me what I never could do for myself. Even as I speak to you I am beginning to feel better; the spark of hope is beginning to be fanned into life.
Jesus, it is at a time like this that I think of you as the Good Shepherd. One of your sheep seems to have wandered away from the flock. I don't have any sense of belonging, or of being led. This is probably my own fault, but I know that you are not in the business of blaming, nor do you want me to blame myself. I'm with you now, and that's all that matters to you. I want to have a real sense of belonging, of belonging to you, and to the flock of your community, of your people. I know that I cannot find security outside of myself, in another person, or in possessions, power, or acclaim. That is why I am going within, knowing that you live there, and that you are always there with me, even when I forget, choose to ignore, or become my independent stubborn self. Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd, please stir up within me a deep sense and awareness of your presence, of your love, and your accompaniment in my life. Sometimes I let life close in on me, so that I end up in solitary confinement, with only myself in my own world. I know this is wrong, but it doesn't stop me from doing it. I cannot look to myself for whatever it takes to prevent that happening, so I really really want to entrust this shortcoming to you, asking you to remove it, to stir up within me a whole new enthusiasm for life, to enkindle within me the fires of divine love. Jesus, Redeemer, please free me from the bondage of loneliness and of self. Loosen the chains, and set my heart free to live and to walk with the abundant life you offer. Let me put my hand in yours, let me know your constant touch, so that you can lead me along with a deep consciousness of never being alone.
Spirit, Breath and Power of God, Jesus calls you the Comforter. I know that you are like a gurgling vibrant living spring of water, deep within my being, even when I fill and clutter up the well with garbage, and with my own human cares and worries. With all my heart I pray that you may rise to the surface within me, bringing all that rubbish to the top, to be disposed of in the ocean of God's purifying love. There are times, many times, when the body gets tired, feels unwell, and is experienced as a burden that weighs me down. I want to think of you as the power, the engine, the generator of my inner self. Please set my heart on fire with new hope, and fresh enthusiasm, and burn away all that is not of God. Set my spirit free that I may know your presence and your power. Jesus said that you would never leave us. You are to my inner self what a breath is to my body. Of all the things Jesus said about you, the one that means most to me now is that you would remind us of all that he told us. That is at the heart of my problem. I keep forgetting; I drift along, without any great thought; and it scares me to think of how asleep I can be. I have no doubt that you must clearly see just how much of me is dormant, how much of me is stagnant, how much of me is lifeless. I see your presence as central to my awakening, to my revival, to my survival. Please lift me out of the quicksand, as you fill my soul with the divine helium gas of your breath. Please give me lift-off, allowing me rise above the morass of anxiety, loneliness and fear. Please continue to remind me, to make your presence known, to guide my feet along the pathways of your inspiration and your re-creation. Please help me, lead me, teach me to walk in your power, with a heart that has wings, with a mind that has peace, and with a tongue that whispers my thanks, appreciation, and praise.
Thank you, my child, for turning to us in your need. Thank you for acknowledging our presence within you. A prayer like yours means great joy in heaven, and heaven itself comes into your heart. Yes, we are here, we are with you each and every moment of each and every day. Through creation, salvation, and redemption, we can share our life with you, and you can join in sharing your life with us. You are called to full membership in the Trinity, you are called to share in divinity, you are called to live with us and through us. You are never ever alone, because we have chosen your heart as our dwelling, and we are with you always. On a human level, Jesus often felt alone, very much alone, among the throngs. To refresh his spirit, he often slipped away to be alone, because it was at such times that he poured out his heart to me, from his place of exile, and it was at such times that he was least alone. I know it can be difficult for you to understand that being alone and being lonely don't mean the same thing. Quite often, you have to go aside, be alone, be still, let the muddy water within settle, and then you will know the presence of the Deity within you. Imagine a pearl in muddy water. It is only when the muddy water has settled and become clear that you can see the pearl.
My dear child, this is your Father speaking. If you think of me as a parent, you will have a much more real and accurate awareness of my presence. What parent would want a child to feel lost? Unlike earthly parents, I can watch over you, I can be with me, right there beside you, right there within you at every moment of every day. No, my child, you are not alone. Loneliness can come from choosing to be alone, and this choice can be made in the midst of things, on a busy city street. You have my full attention, and my total love and care at every moment, but nothing happens unless you acknowledge my presence, unless you turn to me, unless you go down into your heart and meet me there. I always love when you come aside for a while to be alone with me. I love when you spend time with me; I love when you have time for me. I created you in love, because I want to share all that is mine with you. I want you to think of me as watching over you at every moment. I am aware of your every thought and deed. I want you to allow me be God, and not try to take on powers, tasks, and burdens that are beyond you. I understand your failings, and I am always ready to raise you up on your feet again, every time you fall. I would love to be given the initiative in your life over all the many things that you turn into human endeavor. I would like to be included in all your plans, hopes, and desires, right from the start, rather than you going ahead on your own getting it wrong, and then turning to me. I will still be there for you, of course, but, as I see things, the loneliness, the isolation, and the alienation, are totally unnecessary. If you could take the focus off yourself, and turn to me; if you could let me be your starting point; if you were fully convinced, beyond all manner of doubt, of my constant and faithful love for you, and put that as being infinitely more important that any love you have to offer me......that would turn your loneliness around, because your beginning, your point of departure would have changed completely. When you begin with yourself, you are always alone, and always lonely, because I have never created another human being exactly like you. You are unique in the whole history of the human race. It is only when you turn to me that you will be open to meeting the others. I am the source of all human life, and when you are in touch with me, when you are deeply conscious of my presence with you, and within you, then your heart becomes open to fullness and to fellowship. You will never feel alone again...
My friend, this is your Friend, Jesus. I came on this earth to join you on your journey. Incarnation is not something that happened once off in Nazareth. That was only the beginning. I continue to become incarnate within the hearts of all those who allow me enter. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone open the door, I will come in, and I will make my home with that person. Not only will I walk every step with you, but I will guide you on the way, and protect you from the perils and dangers of the journey. I have no trouble understanding your loneliness. Even among my apostles, I often felt totally alone, because they were interested in their own way of doing and thinking, and failed to understand what I tried to teach them. It was because of such times that I always needed to get away on my own, to be alone, so that I could be in touch with my Father. He knew why I was on the earth, he knew what I was about, he understood the love and longings within my heart. I can understand the loneliness that comes from not being understood, appreciated, listened to, or confirmed. You may have heard what is called the loneliness of the long-distance runner, and that is a good description of how I often felt, as the apostles continued to lag behind, because of their fear of where they might have to go. I can understand the loneliness that comes from not being wanted, and from not having a sense of belonging. My own most painful loneliness was on the cross, when for a brief moment, it seemed that even the Father had abandoned me. I know just how terrifying it can be to feel totally alone.
There is a song, a hymn, called "You're not alone, my friend, anymore". I only wish your heart would sing that song. I will never abandon you, I will never leave you in the storm. I will be with you always, even till the end of time. Heaven and earth will pass away before any one of my promises to you will pass away. When you feel alone and lonely, it's usually because there is no one else in your life, and, at this moment, who you are, or what you do, doesn't mean a great deal to anyone. It is a basic human need to know that your life and your work are worth something to somebody. It is scary to find yourself adrift, out at sea in a boat with no sails, or no oars. Remember the stories in the Gospels when I came to the apostles walking on the water, or when they woke me up, just as the boat began to sink? You are not alone, my friend. I am here with a hand held out to you. Put your hand in mine, and feel my reassuring grip.
There is one point that I wish to make very clear, so that you are left in no doubt about it. I don't want you to spend all your time with me! I want you to be so aware of my presence within you, that you have the courage and confidence to meet others, and to be with others. Wherever you go, I will go. Like my mother Mary visiting Elizabeth, you are carrying me within you. Be not afraid, you are not alone, my friend, anymore. Remember that I am with you, that I will never lead you where my power and my Spirit will not be there to see you through. Give your full attention to the other person today, remembering that, by doing this, you are doing it to me. I will come to you in many and varied guises this day. You may not easily or readily recognize me! But whoever you meet today, try to remember that that person is me, and whatever to do to her, I will take as being done to me. Because I am living in your heart, I would love you to live with the ideal : I will try to be Christ to others today, and to see Christ in others today.
My child, I am the Spirit, the Breath, and the Power of God. I am the breath that gave life to the clay at the beginning of creation. I am the Spirit that came upon Mary, and that completely changed the hearts of the Apostles at Pentecost. I am that inner energy that vitalizes your every word and act. I am to your inner spirit, what your breath is to your body. I am the Comforter in your loneliness. I am that Power Within that goes with you wherever you go. I can understand your loneliness, but my role, among others, is to inspire and remind you. I can fill you with enthusiasm, so that you have a sense of God(Theos) within. I am as near to you as the breath that you breathe. I can hover over the waters of your spirit, and bring order out of chaos, and fill all the emptiness within. I can make it that you will never be less alone than when alone. I can be that cloud by day, and the fire by night that accompanied the Hebrews on their journey through the desert ; the cloud to shelter from the heat, and the fire to keep away the cold. No, my child, as with the Father and Jesus, I, too, say that you are not alone, my friend, anymore. Please, let me accompany you in everything you do, in every path you walk, in every word you say.........