Winter Loneliness

This past weekend was a whirlwind. Everything in the parish was buzzing. The masses, the Jr. High liturgy and brunch, 3 baptisms, RCIA, Pre-Cana . . . . and the Bills on TV. All happened in good time, all did what was needed.

Along about six o’clock Sunday evening Fr. John and I found ourselves in front of a couple of hamburgers look- ing out on cold, dark, empty Ridge Rd. January in Webster, New York.

It’s hard to explain, but it was one of those times when, without explanation or reason, the bottom of your world seems to drop out. The winter night was especially dark, the cold seemed to say “forever more”. Suddenly there was this loneliness.

Have you had this? A mild panic grips your stomach. “How can I get out of this?” “I hope there’s something on TV later.” “Who can I call tonight?” Something deep down wants to see my mother again.

And then the feeling starts to spread over everything. “What am I doing with my life?” “How much longer do I have?” “What then?” It feels like you’re some astronaut all alone looking down on your life and then out to the blackness of space.

Ever had one of these? Of course you have. It’s called “life on earth”.

Bright sunlight shines on the snow outside my office as I type these words. That “Winter Loneliness” is gone. I’m late with the bulletin article and have meetings and appointments throughout the day. I don’t have time to feel like that.

But still I ask myself “what was that?” What is that lonely “space ship” feeling?

I think these are moments when we bump into the fact that life is a pilgrimage. We can’t stay here. We’re on a journey. Something in us recognizes that we have no lasting home here.

We’re looking for completion, beauty, peace, harmony and love. And yet nothing satisfies. So we try to fill the loneliness (homesickness?) with diversions (TV, travel, entertainment, booze).

You and I know these eventually lose their power to bring joy. (That’s the sadness of someone who puts their whole sense of themselves and their value behind a “lesser god” – – – – – being a Bills Fan or a rock and roll groupie just doesn’t deserve to define who we are.)

So what does this loneliness mean? Can it serve a good purpose? Of course it can. First of all, it can remind us that total happiness is not to be had here on earth. There is so much in life that we must endure. Jesus did. Why should we be exempt? Just deal with it.

Secondly, it shows us that this lonely part of us is on to something. It signals that something in us won’t rest until it holds what it longs for.

What do we long for? God of course. There’s no substitute for being held by God in a love that is divine.

Soooooo . . . . don’t be afraid of your loneliness. It makes us hungry for what our hearts can only long for. It comes to all us pilgrims.

So don’t worry that you’re some sort of emotional cripple if sometimes you face moments of sadness. It’s part of the journey – – – To God.

God bless you every day.

Fr. Tim