Monday, December 01, 2008

"To befriend" is a verb beginning with soul

Jack Heppner blogs about friendship and loneliness with references to Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul. Heppner states, "Many of us spend our lives in the borderlands between loneliness and true friendship. While loneliness is the hallmark of modern North American society, there is nevertheless a continual quest for friendships that are deep and that will last. According to Thomas Moore, the reason such friendships are hard to come by lie both in the nature of the community in which we aspire to find true friendships and in the region of our individual souls."

After talking about his own experiences teaching at an evangelical college, Heppner writes, "Too often, it seems to me, we experience loneliness while surrounded by people because, as Moore says, we wait around to be received into community and thus true friendship. But with such an orientation, even if and when we are welcomed into a community, we may still feel lonely. That is so because we have not yet learned that true friendship is always a two-way street. It is not a birthright owed you by other people. "Belonging" and "friendship" are active verbs that start their work in one’s soul."

Heppner continues, "An ancient philosopher, Ficino, once said that "... to be loved you must love." That is to say that unless and until your soul is ready to give of itself freely and with integrity, you will always be lonely, no matter how much welcoming you receive by others. Belonging is not the work of others, it is our own work. A person oppressed by loneliness can go out into the world and simply start belonging to it, not by joining organizations, but living through feelings of relatedness -–to other people, to nature, to society, to the world as a whole" (Moore).

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