Reflection for 3/17/20
These days are an introvert’s delight. As a friend of mine said the other day, “I’ve been trying social distancing for years.” We are being asked to stay home, away from other people, especially crowds. Introverts are uniting all the world over, each in their own quiet and distanced way, of course!
Some people love being alone. It fills their souls, allows them to find their true center, and provides space for prayer and study. It allows them to travel into the innermost parts of their being and stop the noise of the world so they can listen to deep divine whispers.
Other people love being in community. They feed off of the energy of others. They enjoy the company, laughter, wisdom, and energy of the group. They naturally love people and connect with others quite easily.
Of course, while being either an introvert or an extrovert comes with inherent strengths, it also comes with some innate dangers as well. Someone who is overly introverted can cave in on themselves so that their inner life becomes a black hole for them, where nothing from anyone else can be allowed in and none of their thoughts are allowed out. Introversion, taken to the extreme, prevents love of neighbor and the genuine connections that make for the good life. Extroversion, taken to the extreme, prevents one from truly knowing him/herself. Extreme extroverts play the crowd to avoid doing their own soul work. They need others in order to know who they are as a person. The crowds are diversions.
This reminds me of a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his seminal work on Christian community called, Life Together:
“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.”
So, let me challenge you in these days to lean into your weakness. If you are an extrovert, take seriously this opportunity to spend some time with your own soul. Reintroduce yourself to the depths of who you are. Visit the great caverns of the soul you’ve neglected for too long. Talk to God, seriously, about the DEEP things. And listen to God, seriously, about the DEEP things. Let your community be a holy one.
And if you are a natural introvert, don’t cave in on yourself in these days. Be creative about your connections. Reconnect with an old friend. Check on the people around you. Allow the people around you to check on you. Don’t become a black hole of life; let your little light shine for all to see. Love those around you genuinely and deeply.
“Let her who cannot be alone beware of community…let her who is not in community beware of being alone.”
You are the one, O Lord, who knows us in the depths. You shaped our souls and nothing in the depths of our humanity is hidden from you. You know our fears. You know our hopes. You know our dreams. You know your joys. Illumine for us these depths as well. Help us to know ourselves as You know us.
You also created us for each other, for real community. Make us wise to see that our souls are knit together, and we cannot truly know ourselves if we refuse to know our neighbors. Show us how to authentically connect with each other, when love demands distance from each other. And help us treasure the handshakes, hugs, and smiles we now miss but oftentimes take for granted.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- perfect community and perfect personality- we pray.