Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn the difference between being alone and being lonely. The first can be a gift; the second a Golgotha. Loneliness is surely one of life's cruelest crosses, for it separates our small little selves from whatever comfort there may exist in the warmth of other little selves. So many examples. Like the loneliness of an empty house for sale...a closed school whose students are gone...a baby nursery whose treasure never arrived....a hospital bed now empty of its patient...a church with unfilled pews...a party with no guests...a cemetery with no mourners...a neighborhood dying of neglect.
The fear felt inside these places is palpable. But the terror, oh the terror is the horrific sum of all the fears. It is the clawing of cold fingers clutching your heart with the message: "And this feeling shall never end."
The holy books all tell us we were made to travel this journey with others. Not always because we need them, but often because they need us. The holy books never promise an easy passage, only a safe landing. But even in the landing it takes as many good hands as possible.
What then is the loneliest place in this world...? Your hand when it reaches out for another and finds none. Sailor, beware the fate of the empty-handed mariner.
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