Loneliness and finding the light of unselfishness
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
A light is shining in these dark winter days - the light of love and friendship that glows wherever a human being is, even a lonely human being. This light may be small, but it gleams and fills any void with twinkling friendliness. It is the light of goodness.
When feeling unspeakably lonely, we can discover this small but inextinguishable light burning. It is found in the realm of unselfishness.
Here love is at home and found in questions that move from "Why did this happen to me?" to "How can I help make good things happen?" and from "Why do I have no friends?" to "How can I be a better friend?" Friendship rests upon a divine idea, a divine right. I believe God wants us to be a family, brothers and sisters as His children.
The Psalmist writes: "God setteth the solitary in families" (Ps. 68:6). To me this is not advice, but a fact. Amid loneliness, the light of unselfishness is shining and leads the way to brotherhood and sisterhood, to a broadened friendship and safety.
In the account of the murder of Abel by his brother, Cain, the Lord questions Cain: "Where is Abel thy brother?" Cain replies that he doesn't know (a lie!) and then adds: "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4). Cain exemplifies selfishness; he has killed his brother. Yet perhaps in one sense, Cain is not lying when he says he doesn't know where his brother is. How could self-centeredness ever have an adequate answer to this question?
Does God ask each of us the important question, "Where is thy brother?" We may ask it ourselves in times of loneliness, wondering where our friends and family members are.
But brothers and sisters can be understood to be our yet unknown friends, people whom we haven't met, who are yet faceless and voiceless. So the question is an earnest one, and it hints at our important role in ensuring that people remain united and that families remain intact.
Our peacemaking, uniting, saving role could be better fulfilled with this straightforward, active, thoughtful answer to the question "Am I my brother's keeper?": "Yes, I am my brother's keeper, whom I have never met but whom I am preparing to meet. I am striving to ensure that my brother will find me. I am yearning to open my heart and to become a friend to someone whom I haven't known before. I am prepared to be surprised."
Unselfishness and active love open the gateways of light. They turn thought to the unfolding of the sweetness of good and focus our sighing heart on the meaning of life to be found in the precious activity of selflessness.
Adopting a friend, being our brother's or sister's keeper, helps the lonely one to unite with humanity. This connection will support us through unselfishness. It will save lives - ours, others'. This is how we can feel truly united with people, feel part of a family. And we will be surprised to find the void of sadness filled with compassion for others.
Interestingly enough, the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in her major work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "The test of all prayer lies in the answer to these questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of this asking? Do we pursue the old selfishness, satisfied with having prayed for something better ...? (pg. 9).
It has long struck me that the test of all prayer - for whatever problem - is passed by loving our neighbor. The light of unselfishness will glow in our lives more brightly, and we will become not only keepers of our brothers and sisters, but we will be kept and cared for as well.
hath not left me alone;
for I do always those things
that please him.