27 Jul Solitude
“The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space free from outside pressure which is the incubator of the spirit.” Marya Mannes, author and critic
After my informal commitment of faith, I guarded my privacy for at least fifteen years. I needed this time to integrate my new conviction into the fabric of my day to day life, essentially a Jewish one. As with Jonathan Merrit who wrote A Faith of Our Own, I strove to carve out a space apart from cultural war stereotypes.
There is considerable difference from being alone and being lonely. The spiritual loneliness that I experienced in my family did not extend to the Jewish community. Here, my solitude was self-imposed. Had I publicly acknowledged my faith from the outset, I might have suffered the deleterious psychological and physical effects that Dr. Darrell Ray describes among many who leave their tradition..
Though, later, I joined a church,, for years, I existed between the cracks of institutional religion., During what I call my “hibernation period,,” I maintained a devotional life that was vibrant, intense and focused.. In renegotiating my identity, I often envisioned my faith as a cumbersome, isolating oxygen tank. Despite the difficulties, I kept it close because of the breath of life that sustained me. My base of support was none other than the penultimate, ever present, threesome of the Godhead.
The practice of journaling. helped me to process confusing thoughts and emotions. As a form of narrative therapy, it was a means to minimize dissonance.. In framing my story as a coherent whole, I could connect my past, present and future and draw from ways I experienced and interpreted my past.
According to researcher, Jeffrey Arnett, unaffiliated emerging adults remain interested in religious issues. A 2011 Pew survey showed that a significant number who have left their childhood faith, keep open the possibility of going back.. This population, fertile ground should they ever rejoin the ranks, needs to be nourished.. They could benefit from accessing private spiritual practices. and cultivating a faith of their own.