Alone Together

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.

“Help,” said the horse.

“When have you been at your strongest?” asked the boy.

“When I have dared to show my weakness.”

“Asking for help isn’t giving up,” said the horse.

“It’s refusing to give up.”

     The dialogue above is an example of the simple wisdom expressed in the whimsical book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Throughout the book, these four unlikely friends share with each other the lessons they’ve learned, the questions they’ve pondered, and the wisdom they’ve gleaned on their meanderings through life. In this snippet the focus is on the paradoxical truth that what appears to be the weakness of asking for help may actually be strength. It is, as the horse states, not giving up, but refusing to accept as defeat the inability to “go it alone” and, instead, to rely on others in times of need.

     It is difficult for many of us, to acknowledge our need for help. I know I’ve learned that it’s a sign of maturity to “go solo,” to soldier on by myself in the midst of life’s challenges, and that it is an indication of frailty to ask others to lend a hand. Even in the arena of our soul, where the truth of our oneness with each other is central, there can be a tendency to function as if we are on the “spiritual journey” by ourselves, when the reality is that we are alone together.

      Alone and together, solitude and community are the yin and yang of the spiritual life. We must be able to stand on our own two feet as we venture into the unknown of our journey with and to the God of our understanding, for no one else is the person we are and are called to be. But whether asking for or giving help, we are better together, more able to find our way because we are all, in the words of psychologist Gordon Allport (aka Ram Das), “walking each other home.” 

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