Longing. Its something we all experience at one time or another, but find so hard to explain or define. On this podcast Andy Parnham and I discuss this “reaching out towards or yearning for something that you can’t describe but which draws you very powerfully with a mixture of joy and sadness.”
The writer C. S. Lewis put it even more potently when he called this longing ‘joy’ and described it as ‘an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction…… anyone who has experienced it will want it again.‘ As you can see these are deep areas we don’t often discuss!
Do come and join Andy and I as we explore
- How a want for something (usually in the areas of wealth, health or happiness) tends to be clear, purposeful, driven by the will often with a sense of urgency.
- By contrast with a longing the focus is not on ourselves, but someone or something that occupies our view and yet lies beyond our grasp or control (usually in the areas of relationships, meaning and fulfilment).
- Our age-old quest for beauty vividly described by Lewis:
”The books or music in which we thought the beauty were located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them,it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire, but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
- Examples of this in longing for a person, place or people.
- How homesickness and nostalgia as forms of longing combine very powerful emotions of loss and disappointment combined with hope and desire.
- How these experiences are also understandable through neuroscience and the two sides of the brain.
- Understanding the difference between what Henri Nouwen called ‘first loneliness’ (the emotional need for family, friends and home) and the need for a deeper life, which he called a ‘second loneliness.’ Here is how Nouwen described it:
”A deep personal intimacy and it is an intimacy that is very demanding. It requires letting go of many things that are emotionally, intellectually and affectively very satisfying. You must grow to realise and to trust that the deeper loneliness is not to be overcome, but lived. You must live it with trust, standing tall. You must try to say, ‘Yes I am lonely, but this particular loneliness sets me on the road to intimacy…It brings me closer to the source of love in the depths of my being.”
- While this conversation may seem rather deep and esoteric, I do assure you we talk about practical implications for all of us in how we live our lives on a day-to-day basis!
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