So, do you ever find yourself struggling with loneliness?  I’ve mentioned before in an earlier post of a time some number of years ago when I found myself writing this statement on a napkin…”In the abundance of relationships I find myself profoundly lonely.”  How could it be?  Here I was incredibly blessed with an almost immeasurable number of great relationships. Yet, my heart was heavy with loneliness. Well, ever since that day I’ve been “turning the cube of understanding” in a quest to really get at what it was that was driving such an external awareness of an inward condition.  Since then I’ve landed upon several credible reasons.  One such reasoning was that at that particular time my life was feeling the effects of losing my refrigerator friend (see Side-by-Side, May 17, 2011).  Another was the discovery of a greater understanding of what true intimacy looks like amongst friends.  Perhaps I’ll write about that in the days ahead but today, I’d like to share a recent discovery that revealed itself as a result of my son leaving a few weeks ago to head back to college.

By all accounts the second year was supposed to be easier…or so I thought. In some ways it was. Certainly what felt like a “tearing away” and “a release” the first year felt much more like a “going away” and “a sending” the second.  But here I was again left with that lingering sense of loneliness that I had felt in years past.  What was it that this encounter with loneliness was teaching me this time?  Well, much like in the past there was the vacuum of friendship.  As I had reflected on my son’s leaving I had come to realize that our relationship over these last few months was beginning to transition to more of a friendship.  I had seen this transition with my wife and daughter and had often wondered what it might be like to know my son as my friend. [As a side, I can only say that this is such an amazing progression of the parent-child relationship and one that brings this dad exceeding and abundant joy.]  So, I guess in some ways you could say that once again I was reeling from the absence of friendship.  But that didn’t seem to get at the essence of the lingering loneliness.  Then it hit me.  What I was missing was the companionship that accompanies genuine friendship.  You see “companionship” by its very definition embodies the essence of friendship and fellowship.  Could this be yet another “missing link” in the chain that binds people together in such a way that thwarts any attempt of loneliness to encroach into our lives?  Certainly to be in fellowship with our friends we have to be in proximity to them.  We have to seek out intentional ways to be together and not let the isolation of busyness win out over the fellowship of togetherness.  We have to be that friend that “sticks closer than a brother.”  We have to find it within ourselves to “make room” for being in community one to another.  No longer to be captivated by “what’s missing” but forever linked together by “what could be” as we do life together as companions.  Peace.