Yesterday, for some reason, I was bone-crushingly lonely. The kids were gone to Korea, a foretaste of things to come. The neighborhood teen who was supposed to show up and practice his spiel on me for a new sales job canceled. An attempt to visit a friend in the hospital didn't pan out. My mother was not in the mood for a Sunday drive.
I was lonely and at the same time disinterestedly observing my loneliness with fascination. Profound loneliness is an interesting thing. It makes no sense from a materialistic point of view. One thinks he can talk himself out of it if he only puts his mind to it. Why should the absence of another human being have such an impact on one? Why would the presence of another human being help so much, even if she were just at the other end of the room reading?
Another person adds nothing to you that can be quantified: It sets no food on the table, it heals no disease, it puts no money in your wallet, it does not even necessarily add to your knowledge. And yet one is aware, when with another man or woman or child, of being in the presence of something unique in the cosmos, something that, for all its small stature, is infinitely more to be desired than the greater bodies of mountains, oceans, or the planets, moon, and stars. It sets up a force field, as it were---I can think of no other way to put it. "If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised" (Song of Songs 8:7). Or also, if he offered it for companionship.
We admire people who get involved in other people's lives to do good---the Mother Theresas. They themselves would be the first to tell us (and they are not being falsely humble when they say it) that from the inside it does not feel like heroics at all; they feed on the energy of it. They have stumbled on a secret. Even the secular songwriters have blindly groped to some sense of the power of it: "The fundamental loneliness goes whenever two can dream a dream together" ("Wave," by Antonio Carlos Jobim).
I have to conclude that this is one more proof of the Word of God. The most profound thing we know about the universe is that it is relational. Before anything existed, there was relationship. One day God, for His own reasons, wanted to share the throbbing, pulsating joy of it beyond the frontiers of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and so created us. And He made us to be like Him. For better, when there is someone near. For worse, when there is not.
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