A Reflection on Being Alone

"Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community. Alone you stood before God when God called you. Alone you had to obey God's voice. Alone you had to take up your cross, struggle, and pray, and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot avoid yourself, for it is precisely God who has singled you out. If you do not want to be alone, you are rejecting Christ's call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called. 'The confrontation with death and its demands comes to us all; no one can di for another. All mist fight their own battle with death by themselves, alone. O will not be with you then, nor you with me'(Luther)" -Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Life Together page 82 (from the October 13 entry in A Year With Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
What does it really mean to be alone? I hardly think that all Bonhoeffer is talking about here is being outside the presence of other people. Surely this is more than just geographical proximity to the folks around us.

Being alone, being alone in the presence of God, means being without all the stuff with which we distract ourselves and even disguise ourselves. It means being free from our need to produce, to perform, to fill a role. It means being more than just a functional unit. Being alone is being fully you without all the other things by which you try to define yourself. It means having the ability to come up with something other than a list of titles, duties, or roles as an answer to the question, "who are you?"

If we cannot be alone in this way, if all we're here for is to fill some duty or serve some function, then like Bonhoeffer said we will "only do harm to ourselves and to the community." To be a blessing--to be all that God created us to be--we need to first be alone before we even start to do. We need to welcome and be welcomed alone.

Let this be a community where we are alone before we are together. Let even this be a place where we are more than our roles and free from our productivity. Let us be ourselves so that they can be themselves... alone.