I could feel my heart thumping with anticipation as I handed my boarding pass to the air stewardess.
The next few days were going to be just perfect.
I was about to have a sleep over with my favourite girlfriends.
Girl friends who I could be myself with, women who I could confess to, women I loved.
I was enough.
These girls were my soul tribe.
That getaway filled my soul.
Everything that I had anticipated with such delight happened that weekend.
We laughed, we cried, we confessed, we giggled, we ate way too much cheese and crackers.
It was life to my soul and I loved every minute.
I came home to my family with my soul brimming…
only to wake up the next morning to the ache of loneliness.
I hate that ache that haunts my soul.
That makes me feel like I’m insignificant, overlooked or not enough.
Why was this ache there?
I had had the perfect getaway.
So why was my soul aching with loneliness?
Why wasn’t perfect enough this morning?
I groaned as I rolled over not wanting to face another day. I had believed the lie yet again!
Why did I keep believing that people would cure me of loneliness?
That perfect was enough!
Why did I think the right people loving me in the most perfect of ways could squash the ache in my soul?
As I lay there thinking and pondering I heard the whisper, “Répondez, s’il vous plaît…”. RSVP!
Respond to what?
To “Répondez, s’il vous plaît”…meant an invitation had been given.
An invitation to do what?
I got up and began to leaf through the ancient texts, my dull ache accompanying the turning of the pages.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Loneliness is a burden, it certainly doesn’t bring us rest or ease in life.
It makes our soul restless and weary.
Discontented and demanding.
Is this the invitation?
To learn how to do life with the supernatural.
Is part of the answer to my loneliness found in the whisper of the supernatural.
I look at the empty chair beside me and decide to give it a go.
To give doing life with the invisible in a visible way.
I look at the chair and whisper, “I accept your invitation, to let you fill my lonely.”
My confession hangs in the air.
I hear noise all around me.
The tug to be busy, the tug to find my fill in other.
I grip the edge of my chair and force myself to be still, to be quiet, to listen.
Is anyone there?
Is this real?
Doubts begin to creep in.
I hear the clamour of my well worn patterns, “Ring a friend. Make a demand. Get busy. Fill this space…”
As the clamour continues for me to pick up my tried and tested medication for the ailment of my soul I become aware of how demanding in love I have been.
I see a picture of myself demanding, expecting something from other, something more than just enjoyment.
I see my passive aggression.
The moments when I demanded that they take away my ache of loneliness.
The moments I have railed and wailed at their lack of care and love.
The times when they would have known they were not enough.
Tears begin to trickle down my face.
My head is bowed and I see the pain I have caused when I demand that people answer the ache of loneliness in my soul.
My confession lies across the table. The space between me and the spiritual.
The invitation sits there.
I am spent.
I don’t know what to do or how to answer the ache of my soul.
I want something new.
Something that will not make a demand on other.
The noises in my head aren’t quite so loud now.
My soul is waiting…
It begins to rest…
In that quiet place I hear the still quiet voice of the spiritual.
“You are my beloved.”
I almost didn’t hear it so accustomed am I to other voices.
There is no urgency in this voice.
There is no hurry or fretting.
It is still, quiet and restful.
“You are my beloved.”
I feel the dull ache of loneliness receding and I feel my soul filling up.
Can loneliness only be filled by this still, quiet voice?
Is there a part of our soul that was designed to only have its need met with friendship with Jesus?
I realise “Répondez, s’il vous plaît”, means accepting a new spiritual rhythm in my life.
Its been over a decade since that getaway and since I began to implement a new spiritual rhythm.
A decade of practicing coming to the spiritual when I feel the dull ache of loneliness.
When loneliness speaks, I now realise that its my soul telling me to accept the invitation to be with the spiritual. To be connected with the creator of the soul. Loneliness is the reminder, the warning light that its been a while and my soul needs filling up.
Over the years of learning to listen to the whisper I have found I want to hear it more because the whisper is so powerful, so beautiful.
Henri Nouwen beautifully articulates the whisper that I hear when my soul is empty and I came for a fill up. This is the sound of that still quiet voice:
“I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am ours. You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests. I have folded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. you belong to me, I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lvoer and your spouse…yes, even your child…wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.”
For me I will continue to “Répondez, s’il vous plaît” to the beautiful invitation to be beloved.