Thy Neighbor: Isolation (Part 1)

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There are occasionally, perhaps even often, days when I reach the evening and my overwhelming desire is to be left alone. Recently, as demands during the day have been increasing, I have found this desire occurring more often. While time alone to recharge, rejuvenate, and relax can be good and healthy on occasion, I began to realize that perpetual time alone can be detrimental. As I pondered my increasing desire to be left alone, the writings of two authors immediately jumped to mind and convicted me.

In the Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes hell as a place where the inhabitants are constantly moving farther and farther away from each other, increasing their isolation. The periphery of hell is therefore constantly expanding as the inhabitants attempt to put more and more distance between each other.

The theologian Martin Luther further emphasizes the danger of isolation and the importance of turning towards others. One could summarize the faith based life then as the movement from in curvates in se,  a turning in on oneself, to opening oneself up to God and to others.

Time alone to think and rest can be extremely beneficial; a refusal to engage with one’s neighbors and a goal of increasing isolation is dangerous. The overall movement of one’s life must be towards loving God and loving others, moving towards God and towards others.