Thursday, May 22, 2014

Love and Solitude in Modern Life

"Think.. of the world you carry within you."
                ~Rainer Maria Rilke

I like to be lonely much of the time. 

I crave the pure solitude of a space with no one in it, and the fuzzy, dusky solitude of time alone with my little family; I like the haunted sort of solitude of being alone with strangers all around as well - in cafes, where little tables of people talk together and I am alone among them. But only if I can avoid conversations..keep my solitude safe. 

At times though, I wonder if my lonely self - listening and loving and all wrapped up in thought - is offering a good sort of love to the people I am alone among in my haunted solitude. Am I being as Christ to them, when I sit in solitary thought? We have a tendency to fill time and spaces with movement, don't we? With words and little gestures..and sometimes I wonder if people can see love lived without the little gestures or words that fill up the spaces between us. The words and gestures I am so incapable of making up. I hope so..

And I think they do. 

Once, on a late train I sat beside a man from India, traveling with his little band. Before his stop, he turned and smiled: "You were never a stranger to me" he said and left for another show in another Canadian town. 

I am grateful, to be a friend and not a stranger to all the little Christs around me. Quiet as I am among them.


  1. I'll cop to thinking small talk is awesome, and I really like having conversations with random strangers, but sometimes I feel like I'm the only person on the Internet who does. I think you're probably ok :)

    Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door today! They were nice even though they were speaking from a script. They asked if I thought people committed suicide because they really wanted to die, or because they have too much stress in their lives. I thought that was kind of a rough question to ask someone you'd just met, but I said it depends on the situation. Then they showed me an out-of-context Bible verse and gave me a pamphlet on Reasons To Live. if I'd been faster on the ball I could have invited them in and we could have broke out the ol' New Jerusalem to see what the translation footnotes were and then all had some tea, but it didn't happen and they went away again.

    1. There's always next time!
      -The Neglected Husband

    2. For sure! I hope they come back. C. even put all the Bibles and Bible-related source materials next to the kitchen for easy access (not specifically because of JWs). I finally looked up the verse they quoted me and it turns out it's not as reassuring as they said it was. :(

    3. Laura, I invited mine up! And now we have our fourth scheduled visit next week. Um, I was a bit of a silly, I don't know what I thought would happen. We haven't got into any of the major problematic stuff so far, so it's all been peaceful and I'm sure they think I'm ripe for conversion. The only problem is that now I really like them and I'm not looking to the necessary hurt challenging their beliefs will cause.

      Any thoughts/advice? Jenna, Masha, I'll probably e-mail about this later. Their names are Val and Marcia, by the way, if you want to put in a word for them with God and company. ;)

    4. P.S. Seth, I've got a feeling you've got some good advice about this, so I'm preemptively letting you know I'd love to hear it!

    5. Hurt them. No, but seriously JW's are generally awesome yet fragile people. Way to take on that responsibility ;). I've found that disagreeing with anybody, fragile or not, always makes me feel apologetic (and not like that) and I want to gloss over problems or say "yeah,yeah, exactly!" to things that are not so much exactly anything. By far the best attitude is simply one of charitable education, you're not disagreeing, arguing or hurting; you're clarifying. Your not defending an optional position or attacking another, you're providing truth. Time on stage has helped me with the "sympathetic-surprise-I-thought-everyone-knew-that" face that sometimes help soften the blow when working through a particularly sticky theological difference, I tell you it works pretty well.

      Other than that just bear in mind that they mean well but they can't remain immune from disappointment. But all the same have some tea ready (or some Very Fine Hats [shameless plug]).

      -The Neglected Husband

    6. Yeah, I think I agree with the Neglected H. on most of this, even thought it's REALLY HARD for me to admit to conflict; my tendency is to murky up the differences and pretend I'm really in agreement on some extremely high-level basis ("I agree, suicide can be sad!! :(") when actually I am disagreeing with every other detail. I don't think this ultimately does much good for anyone even if it's more comfy in the short term. (though I still totally do it all the time)

      I haaaaaaate conflict and disappointed looks on people's faces, but it is better to be upfront about what you disagree on and why and if there's something you agree on (being nice is the best??) then try to separate that from all the other stuff. I don't know, it's hard, but sometimes worthwhile. I hope you guys can have some good talks, Christie R.!

  2. Me too! All of this.

    I love your man-from-India story so much. <3

  3. What a sublime moment! I love moments like these; I keep them close to my heart to pull them out some days, and they make me smile. c: