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  • Luigi Gioia

Not Made To Be Alone

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I must have been 9 years old when I read Daniel Defoe’s The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. For over a week, I was totally engrossed by this novel – living in that deserted island with him, immersed in his thoughts, sharing his industrious loneliness, alternating with him between hope and despair, fighting against resignation, feeding on even the tiniest joy. I was not particularly religious at the time and yet the detail that made the greatest impression on me was the pivotal moment when, overwhelmed by sadness, Robinson opens the bible and chances upon these words: “I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13.5). The world had forgotten him, but not God. At these words I saw something change in the direction of his thoughts. The situation that just few minutes before was making him miserable suddenly appeared in a completely different light: “I began to conclude in my mind – Robinson says- that it was possible for me to be more happy in this forsaken, solitary condition than it was probable I should ever have been in any other particular state in the world; and with this thought I was going to give thanks to the Lord for bringing me to this place”. Just as I had sympathised with Robinson’s sadness, so I rejoiced at the peace that filled his heart. It was like seeing the sun shining after months of cloudy and miserable weather. It taught me an invaluable lesson. Sooner or later we will experience loneliness in our lives. We are made for being with others. It is not good for a person to be alone, says God in the book of Genesis (Genesis 2.18). Times of loneliness test our inner resources and can teach us a lot about ourselves. Dialogue is so essential in our life that we might start talking to ourselves. Like Robinson however we will have to learn to listen to other voices, the earth, the sky, the night. And we might also discover this other voice – that is the persistent, reassuring voice of our Creator saying “I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee”. The peace that comes with these words is not the product of our imagination. People across ages, cultures, religions have heard it - whether or not they understood it was the voice of God, they welcomed it. Robinson Crusoe heard this voice when he opened the bible but there are infinite ways in which it tries to reach us – and times of loneliness can help us listening to it – and feeling the unique kind of joy and peace that comes with it.

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