The poet John Donne once proclaimed”No man is an island, entire of itself”. Poetry can be a tricky thing to interpret. Is a poem meant to be read in a literal sense or is it merely symbolism to convey an idea or subject the author is pondering? We can never know for definite and that is one of the things I love about poetry and art. It is left to our subjectivity and the interpretation we choose.
However in this case I think by reading further on Donne is merely saying that we’re not meant to live our lives alone. We’re meant to live in community with others and it’s only when we have that interaction we are truly ourselves.
The Bible speaks of us being members of one body, again portraying how necessary we are to each other and it speaks of us rubbing each other’s rough edges off”as iron sharpens iron”.
The truth is we need each other. I’ve said many times I’m an introvert. I find small talk painful. I don’t find social occasions easy. Often, even with people I know well I stand there frantically searching my mind for something to talk about.
But I try to persist because I value the people in my life, past and present, whether I have the courage to voice it or not.
I’m grateful for women who came alongside me in my lowest moments of depression. These women sat with me when I was afraid to sit alone. These women shopped for me so I didn’t have to think about what to feed my children and cooked for me too. They sat and sorted and folded my laundry pile when it was stressing me out to look at it. These women and men came up trumps the last few years when money was tight and the future looked precarious and uncertain.
Food gifts would appear on our doorsteps, money and coffee gift cards through our letterbox. They walked the walk. They showed they cared.
I’m grateful for those whose preaching I sat under, those friends who opened up the word and things of God to me, in church and in their homes. I’m grateful for the times of fellowship that went along with these times and the many people who fed our large family.
I’m grateful for the people who trusted me with duties and roles in the church and in the job world and painstakingly encouraged me the very many times I doubted myself and if I actually had anything to offer.
There were times as a teenager I felt I could die from loneliness, despite being surrounded by friends.
I felt like that island. Alone and isolated. Cut off from people and land. Left to fend for myself.
Today I live in a house populated by a small army I created myself, as the saying goes. I know every parent says it and thinks it but my kids are amazing.
All different characters, all different traits, all good at different things but all kind and helpful and loving. Don’t get me wrong, we have all the sibling rivalries and arguments and family dramas but we are a unit, a stronghold. And on the days I am seeking a little peace and a little solitude and the only place I can find it is the lavatory(normally with someone banging on the door asking if I’ve almost finished!) I reflect on the fact that I need these people. I’m not an island and I’m glad of that.
Till next time.