"Loneliness irritates me like a broken nail," says a line in a Romanian poem. The truth is, loneliness stings, pulls apart, and resembles the coffee dregs left at the bottom of the pot in which joy and love once brewed. Although the fear of loneliness is natural, we can choose to see solitude as something more than a "flowering wilderness" and embrace it as a gift. This is the atypical message of the writer Elisabeth Elliot, who met the pain of widowhood at an early age, and in terrible circumstances.
On the morning of the 15 November 2016, I awoke in a hospital bed, with no memory of how I got there. My favourite pyjamas had been torn from my body, and I lay in a hospital gown, a piercing pain in my head, impaling my brain. I was barely able to think and incapable of speech. I was scared, though this was no surprise. My new normal comprised of regular hospital visits and multiple near-death experiences. I was trapped in a routine of near-monthly sprints to the emergency room, and days of recovery. Death was a very close neighbour.
"Love means never having to say you're sorry." When I first heard this line from the "Love Story" blockbuster, I thought I was the only one who didn't understand what it meant. However, after watching a recent interview with the lead actress, I was reassured. She too thought it was a stupid thing to say. Still, the phrase was a hit at the time, because it resonated with an ideal of the era: absolute freedom in love.
We carry sad stories with us, and the meaning of these stories often eludes us. What if we discovered that these stories provide unique opportunities to change lives? Cori Salchert discovered, through family tragedy, the resolve and desire to take care of children with terminal illnesses.
Last week brought about the guilty verdict in the trial of George Floyd’s murderer, Derek Chauvin, causing the topic of justice to once again become a contentious issue for many people around the globe.
When war kills not one but three of your children, what is there left besides hatred?
The loss of a loved one unbalances us; we are never ready for it. Here are a few recommendations given by psychologists for such a situation.
I spoke very little in my early years and my mother says that my silence scared her. She never knew what was going through my mind. She was afraid I was hiding something.
It is said that the mental illness Friedrich Nietzsche suffered from for 11 years before he died was triggered by the philosopher witnessing a horse being whipped by its master. The cruel sight of suffering made Nietzsche run to the horse and wrap his arms around its neck to protect it. The great philosopher collapsed to the ground, and never recovered from the experience.
In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures – Psalm 104:24
Divorce, widowhood, or celibacy are just a few of the faces of loneliness, an experience which Christians also deal with at some point. Those who have often crossed paths with it, say that loneliness is truly a flowering wilderness: a place that is isolated but where deep spiritual lessons are learned.
It’s strange how popular the saying What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger is, when it’s obvious that it is not what hits you that makes you stronger, but the way you take the hit.
If science were a religion, how violent would it be compared with Christianity?
In a conversation with Dr. Shelly-Ann Bowen, we discussed her research on what determines whether someone will be active or passive in the face of catastrophic events—fires, floods, or a cancer diagnosis. Social injustice, a lack of self-awareness, and even an immature understanding of faith paralyse action. But there are ways to make positive changes.
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. – Rainer Maria Rilke
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