A Profound Loneliness

Today is an overcast fall day.

I work silently alone, lopping stems and weeds with manual shears

Thankful for a quiet day to try and recover and uncover value

Hidden by years of neglect due to an absent presence in this place:

Once the hope of a new life, but then a place of deep hurt,

and now a place of profound loneliness….

Perhaps a promise for someone else.

A choice was made to come back to this place,

Alone

To try and make peace with its structures and fields;

And even, until recently,

the person whose presence and attentiveness had been missed,

but he continues to choose the consolations of another

offering more miles, fewer sensitivities, and a willingness to co-exist in a compromised “bliss”.

The forgiveness and humility needed to return and prove a love once professed

To fulfill derailed promises, seems too hard a path for either of us now.

In the wake of a love’s passing,

there are rescued animals attending to my dulled emotions,

Distracting me from an undercurrent of pain and sorrow

Attempting to linger and return,

as memories shift underfoot to undermine forward movement.

I cry out to God for understanding and ask why pain remains.

This small farm has been given over so many times in prayer, even as a sacrificial offering,

to whatever end the universe determines its best and highest use might be.

But no one seems to see its value these days

In the land or the buildings laborers and inhabitants have sought to improve.

I shout at God, asking why it’s necessary to feel the deep hurt and loneliness again—

The kind that makes you wonder why your life is important, if it is….

I am angry with God for His delays

And ask again why I yielded to the call back to this place of hurt for a season

to make peace with a past I cannot extend a hand of compromise towards to restore.

I have chosen to be a part of what I perceive as true, honorable, and just

With a singular focus

seeking a pathway of peace,

Unshackled by deceptions and half-truths and dreams without merit.

The plans of man have failed, so I search for the higher road, even from this place of loss,

Willing to walk the Road Less Traveled.

But today is hard. It is a grey fall day

when the tall oak tree is steadily releasing a dry shower of dead brown leaves.

I miss my dad who died nine years ago on a September afternoon at home.

I miss a beloved grandmother who passed away on a Sunday in October,

as she prepared herself to meet with others who believe in things yet unseen.

I miss my full-of-life, young-adult children, and Mom,

Dispersed across the country, living on opposite coastlines.

There is an odd co-existence of death and life today

As I work alone on this small twelve-acre farm.

My two dogs are “at home” here and revel in their freedom,

Though I will forever wonder why they eat horse poop when they are already well fed,

And why they insist on rolling over dead things that stink,

Requiring them to have yet another bath, OUTSIDE!

They love to explore the open acreage where they’ve learned to respect boundaries,

And they know my voice when I call them to “come” back to me.

Maintenance costs continue to put a strain on resources, but I still envision

fencing in the fields to host horses and a curiosity seeker’s assortment of livestock.

Confidence has been followed by frustration

trying to find a job in a region that hasn’t yet caught up with the news of

“economic recovery”, elusive in this place that’s nowhere in particular.

I am no longer an official resident of the state,

but I own this land with a house, a stall, and a storage building,

not to forget a beautiful White Oak tree just over the horizon.

I wish I could move it to where people I love would want to stay a while,

And I dream about inviting those who would venture “obscurity” to visit.

I am willing to do honest work if a door would open,

but no door seems to be opening for a regular job, earning regular pay.

I am back to depending on God, daily prayer and walking by faith for even basic provisions.

I wonder again if I belong in this place where time seems to stand still.

I want to move on but cannot while connected to this land.

I yell at God this time, not understanding why this property,

so hard for me to maintain by myself,

hasn’t sold, even at a drastically reduced price.

This land was a part of “his” family history, not mine!

People want “something for nothing” is my despondent conclusion.

And I ask again:

What is the reason? Am I doing something wrong? Am I here in error?

Or am I here to help others see its “better and higher use”, as I once believed?

Small comforts break through objections and setbacks trying to bring me down

like the nearby mare’s soft nibbling of aromatic hay,

and the leisurely shuffle of her hooves through fresh straw dispersed on stall mats.

Her curious nose sniffs at my laptop while two canine companions clean up

remnants of grain left beside a hastily consumed pan of sweet feed with beet pulp.

Surely there is value here sheltering God’s creatures (if they don’t bite or hurt you),

While they recover from neglect by previous owners.

As a caretaker I am content. The “rescued” accept and give loyal companionship freely.

In the clean-up of overgrowth about the farm, I see slow progress.

My hands are numb and my joints ache at the end of a day and through the night.

It is then the conspirators of sadness and loneliness return, as I recall original intent:

to share all of this with a life-partner working beside me, willingly.

But I am the one now empty-handed,

because 15 years of waiting wasn’t “patient” enough.

The sanctuary for what was once a lovers’ retreat

Has suffered irreparable breeches of trust

At the hand of half-truths, cover-ups, and divided hearts

— the bitter-sweet root of love’s failure.

The clean-up has been like climbing a steep incline at elevation

Above a timberline with only rocks for directional markers.

Desolate, exhausting, hoping at least for an incomparable view at the end of the climb.

Detaching from it all in my mind results in numbness,

as feelings of profound loneliness and residual losses of leaving linger.

Some don’t understand why “facts” have been so hard for me to accept.

(They’ll be the ones relieved to know I don’t expect miracles anymore)

Realizing the gift of free-will isn’t mine to choose for another.

Today I didn’t feel joy

Until my forehead rested against my mare’s face

and my hands felt her soft “wooly bear” coat.

Some comfort came when my two dogs found me

secluded in the stall with my writing tools,

And refused to leave my side while I recorded “facts”.

I consider how every morning

I am roused from sleep by a wet nose pressed into my hand,

or a furry head laid next to mine with soft eyes that stare at me

until I acknowledge their presence and consent to let them out.

Today I felt encouraged

When a neighboring farmer and his son

delivered two bales of higher quality hay

to replace two moldy ones discovered earlier in the day.

(Horses can’t eat moldy hay without consequence, and

thankfully, mine has a discerning enough palate to avoid colic.)

So I was glad to give the less favorable bales to the owner of less scrutinizing cows.

And I cannot forget the lone Monarch butterfly that keeps reappearing

As I walk uncounted steps between house, store, stall, and fields.

It seems to be reassuring me I am not alone,

It’s simple presence reminding me of flocks of them that once inhabited the trees here.

Even so, I want to know

how much longer God will require me to be in this place

Alone.

Alone is the hardest thing to be. Anywhere. Anytime.

Especially when you’ve been alone too often, and it’s unclear how long the test will last.

But the “end of a thing” never seemed so final until this return.

Memories of time spent with my companion,

Before another agenda and other people became his focus,

Remind me of adventures and caring I want again,

But I hesitate to believe will ever come again

When it’s unclear whether the “hope and future” I ask for

Are here or someplace else for me.

To feel safe alongside another,

and enjoy day to day life

Seems a simple gift too distant today.

Alone

is getting old.

Stepping out of the cradle of today’s profound loneliness

I pose to God, again, the question:

Why is it necessary to know the kind of despair born from being alone

That makes living more painful than the prospect of leaving this life behind?

I realize if I cannot come to terms with this loneliness

I will again need to leave this place

As a matter of self-preservation to find a self-respecting sanity.

More than a few would be relieved by a final act of severance,

But, unsold, this place “holds me”.

In the interim, I’m thankful for small reminders that

Others, however small or insignificant to the world,

may need me a little longer, in this lonely place,

even if it’s just an animal or two or three.

Arising from an empty place within, something asks me to dare to hope in the promise:

“God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing…” (Psalm 68:6)

As I begin to doubt Profound Loneliness is something I alone feel.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “A Profound Loneliness

  1. Mike

    I found your writing while aimlessly searching for “profound loneliness.” You’ve captured the thoughts of many with your brilliant examples from around the farm. Perhaps we put ourselves in these places? We design these lives, I hope not. I hope you find your peace.

    Reply
  2. ManyHatsMom Post author

    Thank you, Mike, for sharing your thoughts. I haven’t read this in years and find rereading it is evidence that moving beyond deep hurt and profound loneliness is possible. I am at peace and recognize it as a gift from a Creator who asks us to trust, forgive, and be open to living and loving again. We are Co-creators, I believe, as each choice made out of free-will leads us to new lessons we can embrace or run away from. Alone is not always loneliness, I’ve found. There needs to be a balance between engaging with others in community, and taking time to process the results of our choices in places away from distractions and other’s priorities.
    Transitioning from one season of life to another is something we allow ourselves. Be forgiving and kind to find peace with what we cannot change, begins with one….ourselves. Blessings.

    Reply

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