14th Sunday Reflection
At that time, Jesus spoke out and said, “I give you fullest thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you hid these things from the wise and sagacious and revealed them to infants; Yes, Father, because such was pleasing before you. All things were delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and neither does anyone know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. Come to me, all who toil and are burdened, and I shall give you rest. Take my yoke upon yourselves and learn from me, because I am gentle and accommodating in heart, and you will ﬁnd rest for your souls; for my yoke is mild and my burden light.” (Mathew 11:25-30)
The fondest images of myself; learned and wise sage, independent and free, in control!
Yet there remains the little whisper that something is missing, something has been lost. Lost, the capacity to be alone, lost, we fill our lives with busyness, diversions, and with things. And so it was at the great disease crept into our lives while we slumbered.
The greatest hunger of today is loneliness. All the knowledge that we seek, all the assurances of our free will; the thirst for identity, and yet we are unable to be alone. Clinging to those responsibilities that appear to anchor my identity.
Only the soul’s journey can lead me to that first step of self-knowledge; that graced ‘aha’ moment that recognises my illusions for what they are, shifting sand in the hazy view.
Then comes the dawning awareness that just perhaps these illusions have power over me. I am repelled and so I look away, I am determined not to be influenced. I am in control. Yet slowly the gifted awareness grows that these powerful illusions must be shattered if I am to give up my cherished idols.
Yet even in solitude, the soul is in danger when depending on its wisdom and gifts becoming a place where new idols are hewn. High idealism and expectations become stumbling blocks. It is only with humble empty hands that solitude becomes the iconoclast, which will tolerate no other God than the one, living and true God.
There are two sides to seeking solitude; those who are running away from something and those who are running towards something. The first are those who seek solitude as a relief from their frenetic and busy lifestyles in the city with its crowds, noise, the stress of the workplace, and hectic social life. They seek times and places of solitude for rest and renewal. For them, solitude is an end in itself.
Then some desire solitude, detached from competing interests because they are running after something. The earliest desert fathers and mothers, solitary hermits and mystics show us the way to seek solitude to find someone, to see our countenance reflected in the divine exemplar and to enter into a more intimate relationship with God.
Jesus teaches us that He is Truth, the eternal and unchanging Logos of God, the divine exemplar that has chosen to be one with us, one with God’s creation. Truth is always a relationship, One with another. This is the only relationship that calls us out of our loneliness that is bereft and barren and towards that Love that is eternal and unchanging.
This is our faith that gives us a place to stand; that gives us our hope and is the source of our peace and joy that the world cannot give. Each one of us has burdens we are called to carry, but it is in the sharing of these with love as the energy that they are made bearable.
“Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
These are the beautiful words of the Gospel that invite us into a relationship with God’s Word Incarnated. God wants to share our journey as well as our burdens.
Lord, we pray today for those who feel called to undertake some burden; to accept death or illness; to forgive an enemy; to let a loved one go; to involve themselves in a struggle for justice. Help them to trust you, who know how they labour and are overburdened, that you are gentle and humble of heart, and they will find the yoke easy and the burden light.
Past the yoke of loneliness, solitude is necessary for us to thrive. As the poet May Sarton has said, “Loneliness is the poverty of the self; solitude is the richness of the self.”
by May Sarton
Alone one is never lonely: the spirit
In a quiet garden, in a cool house, abiding single there;
The spirit adventures in sleep, the sweet thirst-slaking
When only the moon’s reflection touches the wild hair.
There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone:
It finds a lovely certainty in the evening and the morning.
It is only where two have come together bone against bone
That those alonenesses take place, when, without warning
The sky opens over their heads to an infinite hole in space;
It is only turning at night to a lover that one learns
He is set apart like a star forever and that sleeping face
(For whom the heart has cried, for whom the frail hand burns)
Is swung out in the night alone, so luminous and still,
The waking spirit attends, the loving spirit gazes
Without communion, without touch, and comes to know at last
Out of a silence only and never when the body blazes
That love is present, that always burns alone, however steadfast.