We all know people who are miserable, who in their misery find other people who are miserable and often link arms because there is comfort in shared misery. Perhaps the greatest of all miseries is pure loneliness. Thus the need to share the pain. Henri Nouwen speaks beautifully to that condition of loneliness in his meditation today.
A relationship based on loneliness can be terribly dangerous to the world around it...as Jesus says in Mark's gospel today,
"Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile” Mark 7. 1 - 23).
I offer prayers today for people who are so desperately lonely that they must defile themselves and others...may they find true relationships that point " to the One who brought them together."
Many human relationships are like the interlocking fingers of two hands. Our loneliness makes us cling to each other, and this mutual clinging makes us suffer immensely because it does not take our loneliness away. But the harder we try, the more desperate we become. Many of these "interlocking" relationships fall apart because they become suffocating and oppressive. Human relationships are meant to be like two hands folded together. They can move away from each other while still touching with the fingertips. They can create space between themselves, a little tent, a home, a safe place to be.
True relationships among people point to God. They are like prayers in the world. Sometimes the hands that pray are fully touching, sometimes there is distance between them. They always move to and from each other, but they never lose touch. They keep praying to the One who brought them together. ~Henri Nouwen