Loneliness, Nostalgia, and Madeleine L’Engle

It’s awkward at first.

You try.

It’s an email to someone new, and a hope for a response. It seems like it takes forever to write those first few lines, because it feels like if you don’t do it perfectly, all will be ruined.

It’s going to lunch with a group of people after church, and a stomach that’s sick with nervousness. No one knows each other, but everyone is giving it a try anyway. You don’t know if these people are going to be able to understand you through your thick accent, or if you are going to have enough language skills to have a casual lunch with those who someday might be friends.


That thing that can be the most natural of all when it’s present, and yet hauntingly evasive when in lacking.

It’s a part of life and a part of moving. You pick up your world and try to start again in a new place. Will power and Skype can get a guy a good distance, but any sustainable life is going to require an increasingly complex network of localized relationships. And so you try. And it’s awkward.

You see new parts of yourself along the way. It becomes apparent that whatever happened on the childhood playground made an impact, because you get all sorts of insecure. The more you try in new relationships, the more you hear a dark voice saying that you are doing it wrong.

“You’re coming off too strong, you see. If you actually take first steps, you are vulnerable. They will see you trying, and know that you want it… or maybe even that you need it. You are needy and that’s ugly. They can see that, so really any response is going to be one of pity. Don’t you know, you are the only one that feels loneliness.”

And the voices get louder, and you get more afraid. So they almost become self-fulfilling prophecies, as you are tempted to sit down and hope that your passivity brings about community.



“I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming – making people not know who they are. If someone knows who he is, really knows, then he doesn’t need to hate. That’s why we still need Namers, because there are places throughout the universe like your planet Earth. When everyone is really and truly Named, then the [evil ones] will be vanquished.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wind in the Door



It’s late at night, and your friend Matt is on the other end of a phone call.

“Tony, that’s one of the things I love about you. You didn’t wait for a perfect circumstance to make our friendship happen, you chased after it. I think I needed that at the time.”

He doesn’t know that the above conversation has been running through your head. It’s just been 4 years since you started Grad School together and he’s feeling nostalgic. He couldn’t have know that he was naming something very fragile within me.

I guess you never really know when your everyday words are actually words of life to a broken soul.

Because maybe that thing that’s in you, that thing that you do so habitually and feel shame or insecurity for it, is actually salvation for another. Maybe you saying “I’d like to be friends with you” tells less about your neediness as it does your courage. And maybe speaking those words to another person can bring life for them too.

Still Wandering,


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