“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.”
― Hermann Hesse
I was out walking yesterday when I spied a lone persimmon hanging from a rather sad looking example of a persimmon tree. I can’t say that I’ve ever eaten a persimmon but I know they usually sell them this time of year in the grocery store. This poor tree had nary a leaf and only one fruit to show for its labors.
There once was a large persimmon tree at the corner of our street when I was growing up. I hated that this was the location for our school bus stop because when the overripe persimmons fell, that meant we stepped on them. Do you know what squashed persimmons look like stuck all on the bottom of ones’ school shoes…only to be tracked in to school and somehow wend up smeared on the bottom of the cubby of my desk…those big ol seeds in that nasty sticky goo.
No wonder I’ve never tasted one before with such memories. And let’s just say that when you’re out walking in the woods, you can always tell, how shall I put this delicately, what the possums have been eating… and trust me, it’s always persimmons.
That pretty much sums up my recollection of persimmons.
Yet seeing this single lone little fruit on a shabby little tree in the middle of a rather barren spot in the middle of no where, did stir something unsettling deep down in my little ol soul. Just something about seeing the single fruit on more of a stick than a tree, there for no one in particular to see… let alone eat—I had a twinge of sadness.
I know I know, some fortunate little bird or bug will be happy at some point, or more likely it will be a lucky possum who happens by the very day, or more likely the very night, when the persimmon decides to fall to the ground—which is Nature’s wonderful way of taking care of Nature…..
Yet there was just something truly a bit sad about the single persimmon or maybe there was something that reminded me of what it was to simply be all a lone–just something that left me feeling uncomfortable…all this from this single little piece of fruit hanging as a solitary reminder of what it is to be lonely—all of which left me a trifle bit unsettled.
Loneliness can be a very scary thing. It is something we all experience at some time or another. It can happen when we are actually surrounded by people–family and friends or when we seemingly feel abandoned by those we love; it is not simply relegated and waiting for us at 2 in the morning when we find ourselves lost and stranded—either literally or metaphorically.
It is in the midst of our loneliness that we can finally be open to and get a small glimpse of the light of the Divine which resides deep in our inner core. No surrounding noise, no distraction, no constant din of activity to keep our attentions diverted. It is at this empty time when we may finally move inward in order to see what is so much greater than ourselves.
And yet so many of us seem so utterly afraid of being alone. We do everything and anything in our power in order to avoid it. We exert tremendous energy fighting being alone. Our society has placed such negative connotations to what it is to be alone—it has become almost a social stigma. It is uncomfortable and most often dreaded. We run as fast as we can away from loneliness and anything associated with what is means to be alone…turning on and up the television, the radio, calling as many people as we know, refusing to be with only ourselves. And yet that is where the Creator waits for the created…in the void of silence.
It is the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton who reminds us of what awaits for us in the silence of loneliness…..“Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity.
Dare to be alone, to be silent…be not afraid of silence or of the singleness of existence. It is in this loneliness and singleness that you, the created, can meet what it is we all so very much long for, a glimpse of the Divine, the Creator.