There is one Scripture passage that I really like which quotes Jesus as saying, “foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt. 8:20). Since I was in high school, I really feel unique and different from my classmates and friends due to my temperament, intellect, social status, and choice of hobbies. It bothered me even in college. When I entered novitiate, I just realized that one of my motivations in joining religious life is to belong to a community. Aside from prayer and ministry with young people, community life is one of our pillars as Marist Brothers and as religious. When it comes to these three, though I have been a Marist for five years (from Pre-Novitiate and not counting my school years), I am still inexperienced particularly when it comes to community living.
Last Saturday, I flew from Marikina to Mindanao for the annual retreat of the Marist Brothers in Malaybalay. As of the moment, though I know already my next assignment, I feel like I will just pass by the places I will go into. Like the comment of my former swimming teacher, I am like a soldier whose assignment changes a lot. After the structures of novitiate and scholasticate, I am beginning to feel again what it’s like to be a “nowhere boy”, a pilgrim, or an itinerant.
When I was in high school and in college, I feel often being “out of place”. Before, it has been a cause of stress and depression for me. Now, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Yes, I’m feeling a bit lonely now. But when you have these Brothers at your side (well, they are in their respective rooms now), who also feel lonely at times as a result of being religious, I feel that there’s somebody who is in solidarity with me; there is someone who, like me, struggles. Before, I don’t even acknowledge that I am lonely maybe because I am not aware of it. Now, I am not ashamed of acknowledging it. I must be aware of it or else it will manifest in many ways (e.g. how I relate, attachment to pets, tardiness, etc.).
I don’t really know how to cure loneliness. But I believe that contact with reality is a step towards getting out of it. I can be somewhere but I choose to be here.
Now I know why I was too drawn to anime when I was in college. Anime has been my escape from reality; it is my escape from my loneliness. I don’t discourage myself watching anime but I have to catch myself whether I’m just escaping.
To be alone can be frightening. But aloneness can also be a source of peace. And if that happens, that means solitude. When I realize that my happiness does not depend on someone or something (or somewhere), then that’s when I choose to be happy.
I felt lonely because I depend on the approval of others. Let me be true to myself. And for me, this is what it means not to lay my head elsewhere.