Snapshot (or excerpt) from:
Care of the Soul, A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, by Thomas Moore. Harper Collins, New York. 1992. From 11," Care of the Soul in Everyday Life," 4. "Love's Initiations", "Communal Love", pp.92-96.
One of the strongest needs of the soul is for community, but community from the soul point of view is a little different from its social forms.
Soul yearns for attachment, for variety in personality, for intimacy and particularity.
So it is these qualities that the soul seeks out, and not like-mindedness and uniformity.
There are many sign in our society the we lack a sufficiently deep experience of community.
People bemoan the breakdown of family and neighborhoods, longing for a past golden age when intimacy could be found at home or on the city block.
Loneliness is a major complaint and is responsible for deep-seated emotional pain that leads to despair and a consideration of suicide.
The Renaissance humanist Erasmus says in his book In Praise of Folly that people are joined in friendship through their foolishness.
Community cannot be sustained at too high a level. It thrives in the valleys of soul rather than in the heights of spirit.
Bill, a priest, told me many times about his religious order, where community was discussed as an ideal in books on the religious life and by retreat masters.
Yet when Bill looked back on his life as a priest he could think of very few colleagues who had been real friends, and he had always felt lonely in the midst of community life.
Loneliness can the result of an attitude that community is something into which one is received. Many people wait for members of a community to invite them in, and until that happens they are lonely.
There may be something of the child here who expects to be taken care of by the family. But a community is not a family.
It is a group held together by feeling of belonging, and those feelings are not a birthright.
"Belonging" is an active verb, something we do positively.
In one of his letters Ficino makes the remark, "The one guardian of life is love, but to be loved you must love."
A person oppressed by loneliness can go out into the world and simply start belonging to it, not by joining organizations, but by living through feeling of relatedness - to other people, to nature, to society, to the world as a whole.
Relatedness is a signal of soul.
By allowing sometimes vulnerable feelings of relatedness, soul pours into life and doesn't have to insist on itself symptomatically.
Like all activities of the soul, community has its connection to death and the underworld.
From the point of view of the soul, the dead are as much a part of community as the living.
Outward community flourishes when we are in touch with the inner persons who crowd our dreams and waking thoughts.
To overcome loneliness, we might consider releasing these inner figures into life, like the one who wants to sing or cuss in anger or is more sensual or more critical or even more needy than "I" would like to admit.
To "admit" who I am is to "admit" those people into life, so that the inner community serves as a start for a sense of belonging in life.
I "remember" people I met for the first time because I am in touch with the archetypal world of my imagination, and on the basis of that self-knowledge I can love anyone I meet and be loved in return.
The roots of community are immeasurably deep, and the process of belonging, dealing actively with loneliness, begins in the depth of the soul.
Love keeps the soul on the track of its fate and keeps consciousness at the edge of the abyss of the infinity that is the range of the soul.
This doesn't mean that relationships between people are not important to the soul's loves.
Quite the opposite: recognizing the importance of love to the soul, our ordinary human loves are ennobled beyond measure.
This family, this friend, this lover, this mate is the manifestation of the motivating force of life itself and is the fountain of love that keeps the soul alive and full.
There is no way toward divine love except through the discovery of human intimacy and community. One feeds the other.
Care of the soul, then, requires an openness to love's many forms.
It is no accident that so many our troubles have their roots or manifestations in love. It may help us, in those times of trouble, to remember that love is not only about relationship, it is also an affair of the soul.
Disappointments in love, even betrayals and losses, serve the soul at the very moment they seem in life to be tragedies.
The soul is partly in time and partly in eternity.
We might remember the part that resides in eternity when we feel despair over the part that is in life.
(Layout and editing by Bobby Mozart of The Invisible College. Snapshots are offered to stimulate curiosity).
Any personal reports, thoughts or response on this?
H O M E