Sunday, February 05, 2006

Lonely...or Alone?

"I get to work with you today!" she said, big brown eyes sparkling and a wide grin on her face.

"I know!" I gave her a big hug.  I worked in a small classroom, teaching creative writing, but was taking over another lesson with this particular student.

"But won't my other teacher be lonely? She won't have anyone to work with since the other two are sick."  Her smile changed to concern.

"Mrs. Crawford. has been really busy today, and it will be nice for her to have some time alone." She pondered this for a moment. "There's a difference, you see, between being lonely and being alone."

Head tilted to one side in puzzlement she asked, "How are they different?"

I explained that being lonely is when you feel you have no one to turn to, when your heart is alone. And that sometimes you can feel lonely in the middle of a lot of people. "Do you sometimes have disagreements with your friends and they don't want to talk to you, and then you feel sad?"

"Yes. Sometimes they whisper about me and then they won't play with me. That makes me feel lonely." Her brow furrowed into little 8-year-old lines.

"Loneliness makes you feel sad," I continued, "But being alone....sometimes that can be a very nice thing! It gives you a chance to do things that you enjoy, like reading or drawing and spending time with just yourself."

She smiled in understanding....and I began to think a lot about being "alone".Aloneness allows time for dreaming, for trying new things in the absence of watchful eyes. It's discovery on your own terms and looking at the world through your own glasses.It's enjoying moments of pure bliss and taking in everything around us. It's breathing in the very life of Mother Nature, running through tall grass and wheatfields and listening to raindrops on top of a sheltering umbrella.

It's quiet time of reflection and quiet prayer where we find strength and solace in God's tender grace and loving hands.

It's making something out of nothing, filling space with our own creations and making our corner of the world sparkle and sing.

It's growing and being and becoming who we are. By spending time with being "alone", we are able to find that place inside where only we reside. We are able to fine tune our hearts so that when we do come back together, we can give from that reserve and touch another soul. Once we have discovered how to be alone - and how to do it well - we can share what we've learned so that neither we, nor those we love, ever have to be lonely.


Anonymous said...

I love this post.

srp said...

Being "alone" with God is the most precious time there it.

martie said...

Lori, if we could all take this lesson and teach just one person the world would become a much friendlier and better place!

alan said...

I don't know how a child got lucky enough to be yours, because you truly are a good Mom, besides being a great person!


Michael said...

I will write you on this later!

Good post!

Pete Mitchell said...

I printed this one to keep for easy access.

It's interesting how you can be at your loneliest in a crowd; yet at your most alive when you're alone. I treasure my 'alone time' and never worry about finding ways to fill it. So many people find it hard to understand that and I think it is because they are at heart 'lonely in the crowd' and cannot differentiate between that and 'alone time'. They fear being alone will reinforce their loneliness; and they fill their lives with meaningless 'busyness' that ultimately burns them out. I will be passing this post around to people because it explains the difference perfectly. If they don't 'get it' after reading this, they never will.

Lori said...

Lance - I knew you would understand...

srp - YES. When I am going through a trial, I absolutely have to have time alone to spend in prayer and gather strength. It is a must to get back on my feet.

martie - We have much to learn from one another, and if everyone knew themselves inside and out, things would work so much better...

alan - I am the one who is lucky. I was blessed with amazing children and they are my inspiration for being the best I can be. But thank you for your kindness.

mike - Thanks, buddy. I'll look forward to hearing your take.

pete - I also need my alone time, maybe more than a lot of people I know. I think having that time makes me a better wife, mom and person. And I have definitely felt more lonely among other people (those who I know don't truly care about me) than I ever have when I've been alone. I completely agree about people keeping themselves so busy that they don't have time to think - filling their days with insignificance nonsense. What a shame. I'm so glad that you 'got' what I was trying to convey. But then, I knew you would.

Networkchic said...

Beautiful. It took me a long time to figure out the difference between those two things but once I did, I really felt lonely less often. I think being able to be alone with yourself and not feel lonely, is a wonderful thing.

naive-no-more said...

You have the most amazing eye for photography. I'm outwardly envious of both that and your writing skills.

Mellissa said...

I have been working on this and I must tell you that spending time alone, and being content is an amazing thing.

I also can hear God speaking to me without all the distraction.

Nice post!!


Macromoments said...

Lori, I loved the sentiment of this post, and the pictures are so sweet. The one of the little girl in the tall grass is priceless!

John said...

First, let me say that these childhood photos are wonderful. Don't you just lose yourself in them sometimes?

Secondly, thank you for writing something so poignant. I do agree that when you learn how to be alone well you can then be better with others. For me, the lonely hits hardest when my kids leave after a weekend or just an evening together. That's when it just doesn't feel good to be alone.