The mystery of loneliness III
But we want to delude ourselves that love is the root. It isn't. It is only the branches. The root is beyond love, a naked kind of isolation, an isolated me, that does not meet and mingle, and never can.' - D.H Lawrence, Women in LoveI had a comment from my previous post asking me why I had not wanted to go ahead to search for a potential life partner who is willing to share the burden. I think, in the context of addressing the issue of loneliness, this is not solving the root of the issue. As D.H Lawrence pointed out (and I dun think he is a devout believer himself but I think he understood), the root is beyond love, is beyond finding companionship. As Ps Jeff likes to say also, you dun find someone for companionship because you are lonely, as two lonely persons will come together to form one lonely couple.
After reading Ravi Zacharias and a little on C.S Lewis, together with some reflections of my own, I have come to believe Ravi Zacharias' conclusion about loneliness and his answer to a lonely soul. But let's explore a little on C.S Lewis' ideas, on which Ravi has built his conclusion.
C.S Lewis mentioned in his book, The Four Loves' a connection between love and pleasure. In short, he mentioned that there are 2 kinds of love and 2 kinds of pleasure from which we live our lives. Need-Love is the love that we seek, it is the affection that we seek in any form of relationships - between mother and children, husband and wife, friends and best friends etc. Gift-love is the love that we give freely. So, as human beings, we need love and give love.
Need-pleasure is the pleasure in life that provides us with contentment and refreshment, like the cup of himalayan tea latte that I am drinking now as I am typing this post. Appreciative-pleasure is the kind of pleasure we derive when we unexpectedly encounter some things that will make us go 'wow'. As Lewis draws the connection between the loves and the pleasures, he realised that there is a disturbing gap between love and pleasure. It is easy to draw a link between Need-love and Need-pleasure.When we need love and we get it, need-pleasure is being derived. But how about gift-love and appreciative-pleasure? That is where C.S Lewis brillantly unpacked an interesting and fascinating idea to draw the connection: appreciative love. No one can explain this better than Lewis:
Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative love says: "We give thanks to thee for thy great glory." Need-love says of a woman "I cannot live without her"; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection — if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all. - C.S LewisAnd from there, Ravi started to draw his conclusion towards the answer to loneliness. I am not revealing too much how the connection is being drawn here and anyone who is interested should read his book on 'Cries of the Heart'. At the heart of the argument is this and I quote him:
The ultimate object and resource of that kind of love (Appreciative-love) is God Himself, who has formed us, and the culminating response from us is more than just love. That response of appreciation, of gratitude, of awe, of surrender, of hunger to be consummated in the spirit is what we call worship. And until we have found Him who alone is worthy of worship, the heart searches in loneliness. - Ravi ZachariasSo how does that answer my question towards loneliness? The issue is really beyond searching for love, searching for life partner, searching for fellowship but is really the search of the heart towards a place where the heart knows it belongs to. Someone once said that we are restless because we are not at peace with God. Our heart feels the loneliness because we are searching for the ultimate consummation that will ultimately satisfy the desire of our heart. Taking it back and linking it back to my previous two posts, it is not difficult to see why we can feel lonely. When I feel lonely because I felt left behind, or when I feel lonely because I felt that no one is together with me in this journey, what I am really doing is looking for one relationship. This is really beyond love.
Upon reflecting, it is really still a mystery how the mechanism works but it somehow makes sense to me. I am not deluded enough to say that all I need is appreciating love and God in worship. But out of the appreciative love towards God should flow gift-love. We are able to overcome loneliness not because we find humanly companionship with other human beings. Ultimately, when the days' over, you are alone again (unless your companion lives, eats and sleeps with you... like a conjoin twin). If the heart is leaning towards the need for love and pleasure, it has to go beyond that.
At the end of the day, this is not an issue that I can fully address in a few posts as I am still struggling to work out the dynamics of what this means but I would encourage you reading Ravi's conclusion on the whole issue. He concluded that chapter like this:
When we turn to the author of love to define the source of its root and the reach of its branches, love is understood rightly and is elevated to the highest pinnacle but worships at a different altar. Each individual is a unique and distinctive offering brought to God in gratitude... - Ravi Zacharias.