The Restless Heart: Finding Our Spiritual Home in Times of Loneliness Paperback – Oct 17 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In this re-issue of a book first published more than two decades ago, Rolheiser, a Catholic priest and author, looks at the deep longing every person experiences and often names as loneliness. He examines its nature and inherent dangers at some length, but also shows how loneliness can bring great benefits, as it often does in the lives of artists. Loneliness, he writes, presents both potential peril and tremendous opportunity for growth, giving birth to the latter when "understood and channeled creatively." Rolheiser develops his ideas by showing how the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and various theologians from Augustine to Karl Rahner have dealt with this basic human problem. He also draws on writers as diverse as the mystic John of the Cross, philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and novelist John Updike. Kierkegaard, he says, was able to mine beauty from his loneliness by seeing it as a "vocation" and himself as someone who could form his pain into "beautiful music—music that could bring healing to those who hear it." Rolheiser goes on to propose a "spirituality of loneliness" rooted in prayer and "the community of life." Readers who have delved into spiritual classics and the works of contemporary religious writers for answers to this basic human question will be attracted to this book, which eschews spiritual fluff. Rolheiser is not given to romantic illusions or easy answers, but serves as an informed guide who is familiar with the challenging territory about which he writes.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Advance Praise for The Restless Heart
“Ronald Rolheiser examines the pain of loneliness and the meaning of our longing with compassionate precision. The book is not simply an exercise in personal spirituality but comes at a time when great social and political harm is done because many of us cannot
endure and enjoy who we are in our loneliness. A much needed antidote to the uneasiness of the times.” —Alan Jones, dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, and author of Living the Truth and Seasons of Grace.
“Ronald Rolheiser has emerged as one of the finest spiritual writers of our time. In this new edition of his earliest work he tills the soil where the holy longing is cultivated, nurtured, and sustained: the lonely human heart. He holds the key to help loosen the suffocating grip of loneliness so that our deepmost desires flourish and find rest in God.”
—Michael Downey, Cardinal’s Theologian, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Praise for The Holy Longing
“Rolheiser’s program for Christian spirituality is reminiscent of the best work of Henri Nouwen and Daniel Berrigan.” —Publishers Weekly
“A master weaver is at work here . . . I found my soul on every page. At last we have a guide who helps us know what to do with the fire of desire within us. At last a comprehensive, lifegiving approach to sexuality. At last a dynamic understanding of how the paschal mystery plays in our own lives. At last a way to weave love for the poor and struggling people with the highest mystical love of God—I love this book.” —Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
Top Customer Reviews
His style of writing is easy to read, while conveying deep spiritual insights. He is not writing about practical stuff; he writes about what is inside our hearts, and I thought he remained remarkably objective through it all. The book is not too long either, less than 200 pages.
The first part (nature of loneliness) talks about loneliness in its most obvious way: as a problem we all face. This part also mentions how we have become a culture of loneliness. It was comforting for me to read that, because it made me understand why I sometimes feel disconnected from my life.
The second part of the book offers a Christian understanding of loneliness. It explains that loneliness is not only a problem, but if considered in light of the Scriptures and the mystics, is a way for us to look for what completes us, to yearn for God, a dynamic movement towards Him. This part shows clearly that nothing on earth will ever fulfill us, and that we will remain in this state of longing until the Lord welcomes us in heaven with Him.
While I really liked this book, it was not emotionally easy to read it, because I found that it made me face my own loneliness. I would also like to add that while it is true that we will never be fully satisfied here, I think the book could have an even more hopeful outlook, about the fact that even if we're lonely, God satisfies us here too, not only in heaven.
However, all in all, I think that this is a good book, especially if you think that you're the only one in the world who's lonely. We're all in this together.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book also offers insight on how loneliness affects even our most basic relationships like loneliness can cause overpossesiveness that drives people away instead of closer or being too eager to please can make people uncomfortable.
In the end, Fr. Rolheiser concludes that we are destined to feel some loneliness because of our separation from God but that same loneliness is the driving force that makes us reach out for Him and others.
Cannot reccomend this book enough.
Rolheiser offers a well-thought out and deep examination of loneliness, beginning with its dangers-- chief among them, its being a roadblock to human intimacy. He then describes the various types of loneliness--alienation,restlessness,fantasy,rootlessness,and psychological depression.
Writing from a Christian perspective, he goes over Old and New Testament reasons for loneliness,including sin, and being a pilgrim on earth. He then writes about 4 great Christian theologians' thoughts on the subject--Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, John of the Cross, and Karl Rahner. I personally loved this section-- to know that others over the past 2 millenia have wrestled with the same issues I do today was immensely comforting to me, and I was encouraged by their perspectives.
He concludes with a discussion of the hidden benefits of loneliness and ways to minimize it in our lives.
A key insight for me is that loneliness will never be fully overcome in this life--we are created for complete union with God, and since that is impossible here on earth, we will inevitably experience loneliness at times.
The only fault I can find with the book is that it does not go into the psychological reasons for loneliness,such as childhood trauma or difficulties with attachment to others. Rolheiser is a theologian, not a therapist, so perhaps he felt that area was beyond the scope of his expertise. Still, I think including a brief summation of that topic would have been helpful.
Engaging,well-organized,compassionate--this book is as timely today as when it was first published.
The complexities of the human condition are such that it is so very difficult to discuss the issues of loneliness and restlessness of the soul without diving into clinical descriptions and categories. Before long, the discussion begins to get weighted down to the point it is difficult to follow...at least this is true for me. The problem with this situation is that almost every human soul is afflicted with issues of loneliness and each of us strives to deal with it in some way. Trying to understand the nature of our affliction and how to meet it or overcome it becomes one of the major questions in life.
I found the writing of Ronald Rolheiser very amenable to my knowledge, experience, and ability to understand the nature of my own struggles with loneliness. Over and over as he explained the nature and condition of the restless and lonely soul, I was able to connect with the illustrations and stories as my own. I think, perhaps for the first time, the proverbial "light bulb" came on and I started to realize the nature of loneliness and how pervasive it is in every soul. Not only was I able to get a glimpse into the deep longing of my own soul, I was able to understand and empathize with the struggles others face and the subsequent consequences of their struggles. Each of us is affected in our relationships and our spiritual formation by the loneliness of our souls and restless search for true spiritual community.
The notes from the publisher on the back of my (paperback) copy tell that this book is a "thoughtful exploration...in the tradition of Henri Nouwen's classic Reaching Out." I might suggest that title for reading too. I am currently reading it myself and see the two studies as complimentary to one another.
Rolheiser's study in loneliness has two major movements. He first addresses the nature of loneliness. In this section he deals with the clinical side of loneliness. I found this very objective and well presented; it was easy to follow and I found myself subconsciously nodding with agreement as I read through the chapters discussing the problems, dangers, and types of loneliness. This section was a great setup for part two of the exploration which deals with understanding loneliness from a Christian perspective. In this section Rolheiser details what the ancient Hebrew texts say about loneliness and then moves to discussions from the New Testament Scriptures. Following the Biblical contexts of the study, he addresses the thoughts of classic Christian theologians; Augustine, Aquinas, and John of the Cross to name a few.
The study is summarized with the closing chapters, The Potential Value of Loneliness and Toward a Spirituality of Loneliness. It is in these chapters that Rolheiser brings the message home to the reader and teaches about the unexpected joys and opportunities that exist in the quiet places of loneliness. I am able to see this very clearly in the writings of Henri Nouwen from Reaching Out, but I'm not sure if that would have been so clear to me had I not spent several months pouring over Rolheiser's The Restless Heart. I feel very fortunate to have found this book and even more glad that I have my own copy to refer to over and over again. It is, in my opinion, a spiritual classic and deserves to be read by anyone seeking to grow deeper in their journey with Jesus Christ.