"I am a Rock; I am an Island"

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Standing in line at Target, I found some old CDs marked down to $5.00 each. I suppose the great price is because CDs are another one of the many things being referred to as “a thing of the past.” I proceeded to make the purchase of a Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits CD. I can honestly say it’s the best $5 I’ve spent in a long time. Simon and Garfunkel have the ability to personify emotional experiences through their poetry turned into music. No more is this more obvious than in the song written by Paul Simon called “I am a Rock.”

I assume Simon wrote this song about loneliness following a break up. I don’t know this for sure because I don’t think they’ve explained much of their music over the years; likely due to the personal nature of their songs. The reason I’m drawn to “I am a rock” is because in my mind these lyrics describe loneliness experienced by all of us at any one time in our lives. Lines like

“In a deep and dark December I am alone.
Gazing out my window in the streets below, on a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow,
I am a rock, I am an Island.”

"I Am a Rock; I Am an Island" by Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh (CatholicMom.com)

Via Pixabay (2015), CC0 Public Domain

Coping with loneliness and desolation is one of the most difficult things to overcome. What should we do when we are lonely? Just like the answer to most things can be found with God, so too is coping with the overwhelming feeling of sadness. God speaks to that feeling of silence in our hearts when we allow Him to. But how do we get there?

Praying, meditating, reading, walking, listening to music are all ways to help us find God. Even Simon suggests in the song,

“I have my books and poetry to protect me…”

However, these are inanimate objects.

I believe that finding God in others and ourselves go to the core of the answers we seek.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

When we have these feelings of loneliness, In order to heal we need to begin with the source. What we’re searching for is a healing in the depth of our souls. But how does someone heal from deep sadness?

In the Paul Simon song these words describe how deep loneliness can invade our inner beings.

“I’ve built walls a fortress deep and mighty that none may penetrate. I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain. It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain. I am a rock. I am an island.”

In the conclusion of the song Simon writes that rocks and islands don’t feel pain, nor do they cry. Essentially, they can’t experience emotions. One of the reasons we can feel so much hurt from loneliness is because we do experience emotions.

I think when we open our hearts to others, and we reach out for help during times like this, we can then find some of the healing we seek.

God places people in our lives that help direct us back to Him. Most importantly, there is always prayer. We shouldn’t forget it was Jesus who was able to heal the blind, the lepers, the deaf, and was even able to bring the dead back to life. Certainly, when we reach out to Jesus, loneliness is a “piece of cake” in comparison; definitely something He can work with, I’m sure.

Perhaps another song written by Paul Simon explains best what God can do.

“…When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all. I’m on your side, oh when times get rough and friends just can’t be found, like a bridge over trouble waters, I will lay me down. Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down.”

Copyright 2016 Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh

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About Author

Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh (Cathy) completed her education in Special Education and English and now works as an Agent in the Insurance Industry. A mother and Grandmother, Cathy grew up in a large Catholic family and has spent the last 30 years as a caregiver for her husband, Jack. She is a cancer survivor which inspired her to begin writing six years ago.

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