Saturday, September 26, 2015

This Strange Loneliness: How am I Called to Respond?

The world can look dim and dark and fading. Why?
We live in a world of unimaginable suffering of body, mind, and soul. So much suffering and desperation.

We are all united, all called to a common destiny, all objects of His ineffable but utterly faithful love and mercy. God is faithful, even though so many know only a darkness. So many are broken and shattered and alone, lost, confused, unaware of their own dignity as persons created by God and for God.

So many are weakened and wounded by sicknesses of all kinds.

Affliction spreads by the crushing weight of material poverty. It also spreads by the relentless, unforgiving, monstrous lust for power that drives our "rich" society, that pressures people to "succeed" by manipulating instruments of power and casts aside those who can't hang on.

Cast aside.

If you live in this culture and have a genetic predisposition for depression or some other mental illness, it's probably going to be triggered.

Because ours is a society of trauma and interior wounds that fester and weaken and cripple human beings.

I know these people are suffering. I hear their cries inside of my own suffering. I hear their desperation and their sense of being lost and worthless. Of being alone.

I know that I'm not alone. How blessed I am!

Sometimes I am wounded by loneliness nevertheless. It's part of the disease. It's pain. But that is not all, because I am still a person.

Do I not still have freedom in front of this pain? How am I called to respond? I know that in this strange loneliness I am linked, somehow, to the loneliness of all these other human beings, my brothers and sisters.

I hear their overwhelming cries. So much loneliness!

I can't bear that any person should be alone in this way.

But I'm afraid of my brothers and sisters in anguish. I am a weak human being. Weak because of affliction, yes, but also weak in freedom, weak in love. I'm a selfish man. Selfish! But this pain, our pain, keeps cutting my heart.

I don't know what to do. I offer, I pray, I believe and trust and hope for them and for myself.

They suffer in darkness.

I don't know how to reach them in this darkness, to help us all to find healing for our wounds.

More than thirty years of studying theology. It has given me many things. I don't regret it. It has enabled me to help people, and to teach and write about certain things. It has humbled me, because after all of it I know so little....

I do not know how I, myself, here and now, can reach out to the brokenhearted and accompany them in their search for healing. Their experiences will teach me more about myself, and I am afraid of what I might learn.

How are we all to discover that we are loved by God? Not in a sentimental way, not as a comforting phrase, not as just theology or a pastoral program... but really.

How are we to know that we are really loved by God? Now! In a way that is greater than our pains and that carries a promise....

Dear God, we need this. I need this. Jesus.

Break down the walls of fear.