Wandering around with my visiting brother yesterday I stumbled upon a book I find very useful and fascinating.  It’s available online for a penny plus shipping – and well worth this cost!

Walking With Loneliness

By Paula Ripple (1995) Ava Maria Press

I am not Catholic, but this bothers me not the least.  The book is excellent, and of great use to me – and perhaps to other severe early abuse survivors who struggle to creatively comprehend facets of life that perhaps few others ever have to contemplate.

If in the future I have the time I would be honored to write a kind of study of my reactions to the words Sister Paula Ripple included in her text.  The pages are filled with gemstones, even for those who find themselves pondering life without any particular spiritual aspirations.  For example from pages 28-29:

“The writers of the gospel do not speak directly of the loneliness of Jesus but we cannot miss the impact it must have had on his own journey if we look at the misunderstanding, rejection and betrayal that were a part of Jesus’ life.  Even his closest friends missed the meaning of the reason for his coming.  They looked to him to be a person of power and earthly kingdoms despite all his words that this was not why he had come.  The loneliness of Jesus must sometimes have been like the loneliness of one who has mastered a particular discipline to the point where it offers no new challenges.  The loneliness of Jesus must sometimes have been like that of a person who has developed a finely tuned sensitivity to life and can rarely find someone with whom to share that feeling.  The loneliness of Jesus must sometimes have been like the loneliness of the person who sees and tells the truth in the presence of people for whom truth is of less value than acceptability [being accepted by others].  The loneliness of Jesus was the loneliness of individuals who have entered deeply into the cave of wisdom, of those who stand in their own place, of those of flawless inner integrity — as they relate to others who have lived as spectators rather than as participants, lived at the surface rather than at the depths.”


Sister Ripple offers that no human on earth escapes loneliness; that in fact loneliness is one of the most essential experiences of being human.  She writes about how all efforts to “make the feeling go away” are failed attempts that can cause us to miss what might be the greatest learning experiences of our lifetime. 

Loneliness is a creative experience, and befriending and following the lead into learning that the loneliness we early abuse survivors know so well might offer to us our greatest opportunities to even stun ourselves with the discovery of the depths of our great potential.  Sister Ripple continues on from the above passage:

“I know what loneliness is.  I have felt it in my body and in my heart.  I have sometimes feared it, sometimes sought release from it, sometimes tried to ignore it or forget it.  But, at same moments, I have also never been far from the inner conviction that there was life for me in those dark spaces — life that pursued me with an intensity like no other.

I can speak of loneliness with authority only as it relates to me and to my life.  I believe, because others have shared their lives with me, that their way of experiencing loneliness is not foreign to, nor is it different from my own way.

I can describe my feelings as I have experienced loneliness on the banks of the Mississippi and the Charles, on the shores of the Atlantic and the Pacific, in the inner city and in the small rural community.  But, what I wish to center on is not so much how I have felt, as what I have done with the pain and the fearsomeness of those feelings, where I have allowed them to take me.

What I wish most to share is my own system for and manner of walking with loneliness….”  (pages 29-30)


 I am not sure there has ever been a day in my life when essential loneliness wasn’t my companion.  I know loneliness as if it is “the set point” of my being, the state I always return to.  I am chronically lonely.  I seem to have been built this way.  This author knows how to put into words what I need to know in order to think about loneliness more specifically, constructively and — hopefully.


The presence of strangers with whom I shared life in whatever way has been important for me as I struggle with a deep strain of loneliness.  It is a loneliness I no longer wish to remove, but with which I must deal, in which I want to find meaning and life.”  (above book, page 63)

I am glad this little book has come into my life.  I know I will find some important statements in it that will help me move forward in my life with more confidence as I learn to understand myself as a human being a bit better.


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