Thursday, January 10, 2008

Feelings Of Longing And Emptiness

Most people, in spite of their desire and efforts to be positive, optimistic, and grateful, sometimes feel bored, down in the dumps, empty or even lonely and unloved. These feelings can come upon us even when all of life appears well on the surface. Why do we sometimes feel this way? I believe it is part of the human experience. The important thing is not allow ourselves to overwhelmed by these feelings. I tend to believe that all of life has some kind of spiritual logic or meaning behind it. There's a mistaken tendency, however, to believe that anything spiritual must also feel good. I believe that many of our negative feelings, such as the ones I have mentioned above, exist because we all have an emptiness that can never be filled completely in this life. Even if we don't believe or recognize this, it still exists. The restlessness and longing we feel, but don't always understand, cannot be satisfied with more things or more activities. Sometimes our overwhelming desire for material goods, status, power, or even relationships, masks a spiritual hunger and longing. The ironic thing is that even though I know this and can even write about it, I can't always escape it. Like all people, I sometimes feel bored with life, empty of any zest for living, or lonely and unloved. Even more ironic, when I feel like this I can look around and find many reasons why I should not to feel this way. When you feel this way and you can't "snap out of it" within a few days, it might be time to step back, take a day or two off, get out of your normal routine, and refresh yourself. We all occasionally need renewal in our lives. Our souls may need spiritual food, our bodies need rest, and our minds need cleansing. Some people call this a retreat. To retreat does not mean to give up. It means to step back, regain your strength, perhaps pool your inner resources, and start fresh on another day. The monastery is a place that helps me do this but a quiet day home alone does the same. Another alternative for me is a few hours with my granddaughter. Don't feel alone if you sometimes feel like this. I think it happens to all of us.

As I sit here drinking my coffee and typing these words, I am distracted by the photo on my calendar. It is a photo of a small log cabin nestled in the woods of the Great Smoky Mountains. The barren landscape and trees are covered with a light snow. I would like to be in that cabin right now. I would have a warm fire going in the fireplace. My rocking chair would be facing the fire as I stare at the flames and drink my coffee. Soon I would go out for a walk in the woods, hoping a hungry bear isn't doing the same thing. When I get cold I would head back to the warmth of the cabin, pour some more coffee, and pick out a good book. I would get lost in the silence and the solitude. Whew....I really drifted off for a moment. I am actually in a cubicle in an office building in downtown Louisville. It's not quite as romantic but I'm feeling kind of cozy in spite of the fact that I have no fireplace in my cubicle.


Anonymous said...

Love this post. Thank you for sharing. This is exactly how I'm feeling right now.

May said...

Wow, what great observations!