Celebrating intimacy in solitude

 The longing for connectedness and desire for solitude form part of our human existence. Both aspects can become exaggerated to form affective dependency or rigid autonomy especially when you are not anchored in your inner self. Capacity for intimacy and closeness as well as capacity to be alone when needed are essential traits of affective maturity. How do you handle your desire for intimacy and how do you live moments of loneliness?

Perhaps, it is useful to make a distinction between aloneness, loneliness and solitude to differentiate the realities of your individual existence.

Aloneness is a condition that permits you to be a unique individual person separate from others. In this sense, “separation is a condition for communion”. If you are enmeshed in a relationship, you will not have the necessary space that allows you and the other to enter into a relationship. A possessive relationship usually suffers premature death or sink into self-defeating patterns of relationship, if it does not graduate into mature adult relationship that flowers in freedom and genuine care for the good of each other.

Loneliness is the subjective experience of absence even in the presence of loved people. Perhaps as a tint of original sin, most people tend to experience occasionally a biting sense of being unwanted, unloved and uncared especially during less mature stages of life. Loneliness is also a close ally of depression. A lonely person is incapable of recognizing the loving presence God or that of persons who care for them in the community or family. He may look for possessive relationships to escape the biting sense of loneliness. Often his relationships which are attempts to fill the inner void end up badly.

You become capable of solitude when you experience an internalized sense of the presence of God and significant people in your life which will enable you to endure their physical absence in times of difficulties without undue frustration. You experience the presence of God and support of the community, family and the Church even when you face trials of life, antipathy from confreres/colleagues, or when you are left alone to carry out a mission. In our life if solitude which treasures a deep sense of the presence of God and others is not cultivated, we may easily fall into life-draining escape routes. The internalized presence of a loving God in your heart will enable you to live various forms of “absences” in your life cheerfully. “It is no longer I, but Jesus Christ lives in me” no wonder, many episodes of theophany in the Bible (Cf.Gen 15.1) assure God’s presence in the life of a man as an antidote to his existential fear: “Fear not, I am with you”. Claret’s life is a beautiful witness to the power of an abiding sense of God’s presence.

– The Forge in Everyday life, Quid Prodest, booklet 8.