Only The Soul Can Be Lonely

These days of imposed solitude have been difficult for some. A lot of studies have been done on the long term effects of solitary confinement, and (no surprise) some people take it harder than others. Depression has been accurately described as emotional solitary confinement. The body can be isolated but only the soul can be lonely.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite poems by Richard Lovelace called To Althea, from Prison, written in 1642. It ends with the famous lines

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage:
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

The poem has provided literary inspiration to the likes of the Brontë sisters, Margaret Atwood and the Grateful Dead. The truth is, no one is immune to loneliness. When Jesus cried out Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani from the cross, He taught us to be gentle with the emotionally distressed. The mysterious Althea gave hope to the imprisoned Lovelace. Who can you give hope to today?

Matthew 27:46

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

 

To Althea, from Prison
Richard Lovelace

When love with unconfined wings
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair
And fettered to her eye,
The birds that wanton in the air
Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups run swiftly round,
With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
When healths and draughts go free,
Fishes that tipple in the deep
Know no such liberty.

When like committed linnets I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King:
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlarged winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage:
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

Published by

Rick Wilcox

Rick is an ordained minister who is voraciously interested in the holistic transformation of people individually and in an organizational context - enabled by technology, educated continuously through multi-channel systems and informed by the wisdom of history's greatest thinkers. He is a Ph.D. student at Faulkner University, focusing on English Literature in the context of Classical Education. He earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Science in Management from Sam Houston State University. His undergraduate studies earned a BA with double majors in Sociology and Theology from Houston Baptist University. Rick is Deputy Director of PACES PAideia Classical School and leads the Parenting Teens Adult Community at Faith Bible Church in The Woodlands Texas.

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