Of all the social changes in the last several decades, nothing has surprised me more than the recent rise of interest in spirituality. For many in Western societies, a hunger for the sacred has emerged out of the bankruptcy of materialism and secularism. And for many in the church, a longing for a deep encounter with God has arisen out of the arid soil of knowing about God but having little personal, experiential knowing of him.
Spirituality means different things to these people. But a common component of those diverse meanings is the notion of being connected. We all long to be connected – to God (however he/she/it is understood), to others, to our selves, and to the earth. We need to be connected to something larger than our small ego-selves. In fact, the longing for connections is the cry of the soul in response to the pain of alienation and separation. As the Sufi mystical poet Rumi says:
Listen to the reed and the tale it tells.
How it sings of separation.
Ever since they cut me from the reed bed
my wail has caused men and women to weep.
I want a heart that is torn open with longing
so that I might share the pain of this love.
Whoever has been parted from its source
longs to return to that state of union.
The hunger for connection is one of the most fundamental desires of the human heart. We are like immigrants in a new land, with no family or friends and no sense of place. We seem to have lost our mooring. Or perhaps we have lost some part of ourselves. Like pieces of a puzzle seeking their adjoining pieces, we long for connections that will assure us that we belong.
From: David Benner in Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction