For we brought nothing into the world,
just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
—1 Timothy 6:7
Think only how you may live, as it were, alone with God, removed from the world, the simple and pure life of the spirit, as though your soul were already in eternity… There you would not busy yourself with earthly things, nor be disquieted by the state of the world, by peace or war, fair skies or foul, or anything here below. But you would be absorbed and filled by his love.
—St. Albert the Great
The people we encounter and the relationships we foster in this life are meant to reveal God’s love for us. In the pure, sacrificial love we show one another, we can experience an infinitesimal sliver of Heaven.
But often, our earthly relationships fall short of mirroring that love. If we are not deeply rooted in God first and foremost, the ups and downs of those earthly relationships will send us into a tailspin. If we place all our hope in another person, we will be crushed when they let us down. When we cross the line from healthy attachment to making an idol out of another, we are placing expectations on them that only God can fulfill.
The solution, then, is not to be distrustful of others and isolate ourselves from the world; rather, we are to first open our hearts to God and allow Him to love us. We are to stop seeking comfort from temporary salves and distractions so that we can listen to His presence in the silence. Too often we avoid silence, especially in our perpetually distracted age, because we fear the sense of loneliness and isolation it brings. But if we face that fear and really enter into the quiet, finally facing our thoughts and fears and hopes and sorrows, we will discover that we are never truly alone. When all the world falls away, He is what remains.
Then, when we have been filled with His pure love, we can generously share that love with all those whose hearts have been broken by the world. Our relationships will reflect the love He has shown us: we will be confident that we are lovable, and we won’t need the attention of others to prove it. We will love courageously, unafraid of sacrifice. And we will embrace moments of silence, when the empty noise of the world fades away and we can be still and know that He is God.
Image: Arches National Park / PD-US