Monday, April 1, 2013

The desert is about loneliness

"The desert is about loneliness…"

This phrase, taken from The Valkyries, by Paulo Coelho, struck me immensely. I know I struggle with loneliness from time to time, and it seems so silly because I am really not alone. But it is more of a feeling than a choice, and so I sometimes cannot prevent my heart from feeling that way… but I can take it with open arms and turn the suffering and struggle into a growing experience. If I cannot do that, what good would I have taken out of suffering? And what good would it have been going to the desert? Or is it better to choose not to go? The challenge is choosing to go to the desert.

Because… the desert is about loneliness…

When I think about traveling, I am scared of being alone. Knowing I will meet people helps a little, but meeting people does not always mean developing true friendships. Traveling is sometimes like going away from everything I know, seeking peace, seeking growth. Sometimes traveling is a retreat. Sometimes it’s meant to be a desert. It’s meant to put me aside, and leave me, alone, so that I can reflect and come closer to God.

It is not that pretty to think of traveling and other experiences in our lives as a desert, because mostly, the desert takes form in things we run away from, and which hold a sadder, more estranged image in our minds. Most people would think of traveling as fun, and not as a way of getting away from people and the world, just as most people don’t think of traveling to the desert, away from comfort and civilization. The beauty lies perhaps in choosing to go into the desert of our lives, to be taken apart for a moment, to feel the empty spaces in our hearts, so we call fill them up only with God. That’s what retreats are about sometimes… deserts and loneliness.