In the midst of bad days and hard times, it’s easy to look around and see a bunch of people who seem to be doing perfectly fine.  But I assure you they’re not.  We’re all struggling in our own unique way, every single day.  And if we could just be brave enough to open up about it, and talk to each other more often, we’d realize that we are not alone in feeling lost and alone with our issues.

So many of us are fighting a similar battle right now.  Try to remember this.  No matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, there are others out there experiencing the same emotions.  When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your troubled subconscious mind trying to sell you a lie. There’s always someone who can relate to you. There’s always someone who understands. Perhaps you can’t immediately talk to them, but they are out there. I am out there. The whole reason I wrote these words is because I often feel and think and struggle much like you do.  I care about many of the things you care about, just in my own way.  And although some people do not understand us, we understand each other. You are definitely not alone! We are not alone! And to further assure you of this, let me tell you a quick story about a strong and beautiful woman I know who has recently felt alone, too.

What She Desires Most

She notices the people sitting in a small sports bar across the street.  They’re cheering and chatting.  They look so alive.  She wants to cross the street and join these people just to connect with them to be a part of something.  But a subtle voice that comes from within, that whispers from the open wounds in her heart, holds her back from doing so.  So she keeps walking.  Alone. She walks to the end of the city center where she sees a dirt path that leads up a grassy hill. The hill, she knows, overlooks a spiritual sanctuary.  But it isn’t the sanctuary she wants to visit tonight not yet anyway.  It’s a warm, breezy Saturday night and she wants to find a place outdoors with sufficient light so she can sit and read the book she’s grasping in her right hand.

But reading isn’t what she really wants.  Not deep down.  What she really wants is for someone anyone at all to tap her on the shoulder and invite her into their world.  To ask her questions and tell her stories.  To be interested.  To understand her.  To laugh with her.  To want her to be a part of their life. But it isn’t even this connection with someone new that she wants most.  At least not at the deepest level.  At the deepest level, in the core of her soul, even fleeting connections with others seem to interfere with what she desires most.  Which is to know that she’s not alone in the world.  That she truly belongs.  And that whatever she was put here to do, in time, will be done and shared with others who deeply care.

An Unsustainable Past

This young woman left a substantial segment of her life behind to be in this small city tonight.  A few months ago, she was engaged to a strapping young businessman, managing a fast-growing start-up company, working long, hard days and enjoying the fruits of her labor together with a deepening community of friendships in Manhattan. In a period of just a few months, her fiancé and her split and decided that it was easiest to shutdown the company and divide the monetary remains rather than attempt co-ownership.  As they began the process of shutting down the company, she learned that most of the seemingly deep friendships she had made in Manhattan were tied directly to her old business affairs or her business-socialite of an ex-fiancé.

While this young woman didn’t consciously expect such a rapid, tragic series of events, it also wasn’t totally unexpected.  Subconsciously she knew that she had created a life for herself that was unsustainable.  It was a life revolving around her social status in which all of her relationships brought with them a mounting and revolving set of expectations.  This life left no time for spiritual growth or deep connection or love. Yet, this young woman is drawn to spirituality, connection and love.  She has been drawn to all three all her life.  And the only thing that steered her off course into this unsustainable lifestyle was the careless belief that if she did certain things and acted in certain ways she would be worthy in the eyes of others.  That her social status would procure lasting admiration from these people.  And that she would never feel alone.

The Sanctuary

The young woman walks up a steep paved road on the outskirts of the city center.  She feels the burn in her calf muscles as she marches higher and higher.  The road is, at first, filled with quaint boutique shops and young couples and friends, but as it advances uphill they give way to small cottage homes and kids playing with flashlights in the street.  She keeps marching higher and higher until she reaches a clearing where there is a small public park.

In this park, a group of teenagers are huddled around two guitarists who are strumming and singing an acoustic melody.  “Is it a popular song?” she thinks to herself.  She isn’t sure because she hasn’t had time lately to listen to music.  She wants to join the group.  She wants to tell the guitarists that their music is incredible.  But she hesitates.  She just can’t find the nerve to walk over to them. Instead, she sits on a park bench a few hundred feet away.  The bench overlooks the cityscape below.  She stares off into the distance and up into the night sky for several minutes, thinking and breathing.  And she begins to smile, because she can see the spiritual sanctuary.  It’s dark outside, but the sanctuary shines bright.  She can see it clearly.  She can feel its warmth surrounding her.  And although she knows the sanctuary has existed for an eternity, her heart tells her something that stretches a smile across her cheeks: “This sanctuary is all yours tonight.”

Not in the sense that she owns it.  Nor in the sense that it isn’t also a sanctuary for millions of other people around the world.  But rather in the sense that it belongs to all of us as part of our heritage, exclusively tailored for every human being and our unique needs and beliefs.  It’s a quiet refuge that, when we choose to pay attention, exists all around us and within us.  We can escape to it at any time.  It’s a place where we can dwell with the good spirits and guardian angels that love us unconditionally and guide us even when we feel lost and alone.

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