Autumn... Maple Leaf
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I [Jesus] won't leave you [his students, by extension all his followers] like orphans. I will come back to you [after my resurrection]. In a little while the people of this world [world-system] won't be able to see me, but you will see me ["see," experience, know intimately, share with]. And because I live, you will live [spiritually alive, not only biologically].
*Gospel of John 14.18-19 (CEV)
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A vivid memory from my late teens is sitting - forty-one years ago - outside my apartment in Ailey, Georgia. I am a college student. I am a young evangelical preacher - my first pastorate at age nineteen -and a ministry student living away from family for the first time. I sit in the dark near the main highway. Vehicles pass. I know there is a world out there, one of people enjoying being with people this night. That world seems alien to me, like it and I live on different planets. I do not feel part of that world. I feel painfully alone. Now, I feel part of that world - Earth, people, other beings - seen, unseen - ... , but not the world Jesus meant by "world." The more intimate I become with life, the more I know I do not belong to the "world" Jesus spoke of, and that is okay. Loneliness comes - infrequently now -, and that is okay, too.
Without some loneliness, I do not know if I would appreciate well the company of other beings and what a grace it is for us to meet, share, and say goodbye. Anyone who comes into my life, even if simply passing in silence, is Christ showing up, is Buddha saying, "Hi! Brian."
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The other night I brought a plant out of the cold into the house. Finding out it was the wrong plant to bring inside, I took it back outside. I talked with the plant. I was concerned it might not like being moved here and there - plants can be that way... like us. That was good company, and I was sharing my life with another life. That sharing was as natural as sharing with a human.
I wanted the plant to feel cared for. So, maybe the plant felt that company through the energy of my presence and words, assuring it all was well. And, I felt its companionship. Wonderful! That is one thing we can do about loneliness, but remember, loneliness need not be seen as a problem. So, let us hear what the Sage says.
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"I feel lonely much of the time. What am I to do about that?" she asked. The Sage answered, "Accept it, befriend it. Feeling lonely is the other side of feeling companioned. Presence expresses equally as both. Presence can't be absent, so you can experience Presence by not feeling anyone or anything is present."
"That's odd," came the reply." "When you say 'I feel lonely,' you're speaking of a feeling. Ask yourself, 'Who feels lonely?' And, 'What is this lonely I refer to?' - Can you find it? - And, 'Where does the lonely go when I don't feel it anymore? What remains?'"
In what ways might you use modern technology to try to escape loneliness? Can you really escape loneliness? Explain. Practice being-with loneliness when you feel the urge to reach for the phone, computer, or another escape. What happens when you relax into loneliness, not as a problem, but for being a feeling neither for nor against your enjoyment of life? Consider the possibility that by being intimate with loneliness, you can discover it is not really loneliness at all. Is that possible? How about seeing for yourself?
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage"
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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2022.
*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and notation of title and place of the photograph.
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.