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Beside Restful Waters

by Gregory Hermann

“Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin.”

Thomas Merton

Life, to be lived in 'a certain way', as we have discussed for the past few weeks.

I am also hearing a very strong call to silence, in meditation, contemplation, and in other expressions of Spirituality.

Now, Thomas Merton is calling me to loneliness, right? Calling us to loneliness?

I am finding a source of frustration here. During the deepest places of my active addiction, loneliness was profound. Loneliness was crippling. Loneliness was a harsh symptom of depression. However, this isolation seemed to bring a sense of safety and security.


I recall the sense of claustrophobic suffocation when I was in these places of depression, loneliness and isolation. I also recall a cry of desperation, a cry for help....................

The response was a personal connection.

This was a frightening experience as it required a step in to a place of insecurity. I had to move out of isolation and loneliness to connect with the people who could help me. Yes, this was an experience of depth, feeling like it was a long way up to the top.

In silence and loneliness, the slightest sound, sight, touch or smell becomes very loud, bright, and intense. My initial reactions were to retreat back in to loneliness. Yet, with the patience of my supportive brothers and sisters, I was able to practice the slow rise to places of relationship and connection. These were the places that my Higher Power took on a physical presence. These were the places of beginnings.

I began to experience a change in my 'way of life'.

I began to hear the beauty in the voices of wind, water, people.

I began to feel the gentleness of a hand, the breeze, the dew on the morning grass.

I began to see into the smiles, flowers, birds.

The way out of the loneliness offered a life of better health – of mind, body and spirit. This continues to be a way of frustrating contradictions. I still find safety and security in silence and loneliness. However, I have a stronger freedom. Today, I have the freedom to enter into silence or noise; to loneliness or physical connection. These freedoms are indeed the substance of grace – Divine presence – that are the core of sobriety, the core of a life of balance, minimal conflict, peace – the place of goodness.

No one can make me be in this place of goodness. I have to make an intentional effort to go there. This freedom is especially precious today with so many personal distractions that challenge our 'place of goodness and security'. So I set my intention each day to make space for silence and loneliness. From here, I move in to our relationships with a greater sense of 'sacred' appreciation for you and all of our universe.

Yes, each day is an opportunity to greet the sacred presence of you and all of creation.

This is truly a place beside restful waters.


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