Filled with Loving Kindness: Belonging to One Another

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness,
the astonishing light of your own being.


I find as I observe myself over the years that I really appreciate a good deal of alone time. Alone time allows me to recharge energetically in the morning.  It is not enough for me to get a good night’s sleep, but I need to be able to wake up in the mornings and move around the house in the quiet with time to think, read, meditate, listen to the news, stand or sit outside looking at the stars before dawn–any number of things.  Done alone, I gather energy for the day.  During the day, a few minutes of quiet and being left alone allow me to find my bearings again–often lost in the none stop activities of teaching.  In the late afternoon or evening a little alone time allows me to clear out the psychological dust and mud of the day so that I can be with my beloved and anyone else that the evening might bring my way.

Alone time for me, and for introverts in general, is necessary.  But, I have observed something else about myself over the years, and I suspect that it is true for human beings: I need to feel belonging.  It is really important for me to feel a belonging to and with others.  A certain assurance comes from knowing that I belong to communities of people, an assurance about my own humanity, about the meaning of things, about the world we live in and the worthwhileness of being here.  A sense of belonging can be fragile, and it only takes a bad experience or two in any given day to make me call that into question. The events of our current political upheaval have left many people feeling the fracture of their belonging to the community of humanity.

To these times of fracture, I hear these words of Hafiz speak.  When we find ourselves cut off, lonely (very different from being alone and choosing to be alone), and feeling lost in a spiritual and psychological darkness, we have lost touch with our own astonishing light of being.  Belonging only happens because we each are lights of being, but feeling belonging is not something I can give myself.  I need you, and you need me to establish and reassure that sense of belonging.

And so, today, during some of my alone time, I will practice calling on loving kindness to fill myself.  And then, I will call on loving kindness to fill you.  And then I will call on loving kindness to fill us all–which creates a sense of belonging.  I will walk in that assurance today.  I invite you to walk with me.

Bob Patrick

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