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The Great Belonging: How Loneliness Leads Us to Each Other

The Great Belonging: How Loneliness Leads Us to Each Other


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Loneliness has reached epidemic proportions, according to many sources. In an age of mobility and fraying civic life, we are all susceptible to its power. But what if loneliness is a necessary part of the human condition? What if it is a current that leads us deeper into belonging—to ourselves, to each other, and to God?

In The Great Belonging, writer and spiritual director Charlotte Donlon reframes loneliness and offers us a language for the disquiet within. Instead of turning away from the waters of loneliness for fear they will engulf us, she invites us to wade in and see what we find there. In vulnerable, thoughtful prose, Donlon helps us understand our own occasional or frequent loneliness and offers touchpoints for understanding alienation. We can live into the persistent questions of loneliness. We can notice God's presence even when we feel alone in our doubts. Ultimately, Donlon claims, we can find connection that emerges from honesty, and she offers tools, resources, and practices for transforming loneliness into true belonging.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781506461960
Publisher: 1517 Media
Publication date: 11/10/2020
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 509,353
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Charlotte Donlon is a writer, spiritual director, and host of the Hope for the Lonely podcast. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Catapult, The Millions, Mockingbird, and elsewhere. She holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University. She and her husband have led small groups for more than fifteen years, and their simple philosophy of ministry is to love God and love others. Donlon lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband and their two teenage children.

Lauren F. Winner is a historian, professor, lecturer, and author of books including Girl Meets God; Still; and Wearing God.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Introduction xv

Part I Belonging to Ourselves

1 The Opposite of Loneliness 3

2 Core Loneliness 6

3 Wandering around the Stacks 9

4 A Fragile Knowledge 13

5 The Weight Pressing Down on Us 15

6 Occasions of Loneliness 17

7 A Breakdown 19

8 Befriended by the Ordinary 24

9 Our Pets Who Bring Us Joy 27

10 An Illustration 33

11 When Your Mother's Soul Has Left You 35

12 Linger and Listen 39

13 Hot and Cold 42

14 Our Five Senses 44

Part II Belonging to Each Other

15 Potential 49

16 When We Didn't Have Sex 51

17 Together but Separate 53

18 When We Do Have Sex 59

19 Mother-Daughter Connections 61

20 My Mother's Loneliness 65

21 Hot Dog Club 69

22 Buddy Benches 73

23 A Chance Encounter 76

24 Coffee Shop Company 79

25 'Tis the Season 82

26 A List of Lost Friends and Answered Prayers 84

27 We Sing to Belong 90

28 All the Saints 94

29 Giving Away What We Want Most 99

Part III Belonging to Our Places

30 Five Points 105

31 Home Sweet Home 112

32 Nature's Comfort 117

33 Drawing What's in Front of Us 122

Part IV Belonging through Art

34 Poems for the Dead 127

35 Music and Memories 130

36 Portraits of Loneliness 135

37 When Stories Help 137

38 Visio Divina 143

Part V Belonging to God

39 Living with Complexities 149

40 Absence 154

41 Suffering, Resilience, and Our Hope for Shalom 155

42 Can Loneliness Be a Good Thing? 161

43 Receiving Grace 164

Questions for Reflection and Discussion 167

Meditations for Belonging 169

Acknowledgments 183

Notes 185

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