“We are born with a longing to be longed for.” I don’t know who said that, but I regret to say it wasn’t me. Never mind – I can still quote it at the Great Cocktail Party of Life, and look wise and witty. I’m sure I can pull it off if I try.
Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to get away with stealing someone else’s words and phrases. The Internet makes is very hard to cheat. Ask any student who has cut and pasted blocks of an article they found online and got caught. Yes, teachers know how to use Google too.
Anyway, that quote I started with. “We are born with a longing to be longed for.” It expresses the heart of what it means to be human. We were created to be in community by a God who also dwells in community (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Isolation hurts us. Loneliness crushes our humanity. We need relationships. We need to be loved. We need to be longed for.
Armchair sociologist-psychologist that I am, I reckon I have a neat diagnosis of humanity’s problems. I think they are rooted in the destructive impulses of people who do not feel they are loved or longed for. The personality disordered person feels no empathy for others and no sense of obligation to society because deep down they suspect they are unloved. If they try to love they fail, because their own agonizing need eventually makes the project all about them. So, lo and behold their belief that they are unloved is a self-fulfilling prophecy. They think they’re unloved, so they behave in ways that cause people to not love them. Hey presto!
The best start a parent can give a child is not a materially comfortable lifestyle, but a solid knowledge that they are loved unconditionally. When children grow up without that firm belief, problems inevitably result.
There’s no way around it – we were made for love – to give it AND receive it. We were created for community. As our friend David Zahl (remember him – the Seculosity guy?) puts it: “So fundamental is our need for connection that when belonging isn’t readily found in conventional spheres like church, neighborhood, office, or home, we will look elsewhere and anywhere for it. It is no coincidence, then, that politics serves a tribal function for more and more people. Because when you share an ideological affiliation, you share not only stories and foundations but antagonisms. And nothing bonds people closer together than a shared enemy.” I love this. He understands that the bitter divisions in the US are not the result of differences in politics, theology, or philosophy. No, they are rooted in a search for identity and belonging – the longing to be longed for.
Here at St John’s we’re enjoying a new season. The pandemic is over! We have a new sense of stability. It’s time to remember how amazing it is to be part of a vital, living, loving community. For this reason, I’ve been very eager to explore ways that we can re-engage with each other and find our sense of belonging and ‘being longed for’.
Here’s a way … Cursillo. If you’ve never attended one of those transformational weekends at Camp McDowell, please consider it. When Cursillo is done well (and it IS done well in the Diocese of Alabama) it changes lives. People’s relationship with God takes on new depth and vitality. And they move into close and supportive relationships with others. In short, people grow in love, and in being loved.
I’m delighted to announce today that JR Marshall has courageously agreed to be our new Lay Rector for Cursillo. She can answer all your questions, and get you registered for a weekend. So, give it some thought. It might change your life.