The Long Loneliness

Eight years ago we opened the doors to Good Shepherd Montessori School.  Today I have been reflecting on those years, and  I have been thinking about the epilogue to Dorothy Day’s Autobiography, The Long Loneliness. It is one of my favorite passages, and I have read it aloud to faculty and parents at different times over the course of the past eight years. I take heart in its message. It resonates with my experience of Good Shepherd. I thought this is a good time to share it here as well.

Thanks for indulging me.

We were just sitting there talking when Peter Maurin came in.

We were just sitting there talking when lines of people began to form, saying, “We need bread.” We could not say, “Go, be thou filled.” If there were six small loaves and a few fishes, we had to divide them. There was always bread.

We were just sitting there talking and people moved in on us. Let those who can take it, take it. Some moved out and that made room for more. And somehow the walls expanded.

We were just sitting there talking and someone said, “Let’s all go live on a farm.”

It was as casual as all that, I often think. It just came about. It just happened.

I found myself, a barren woman, the joyful mother of children. It is not always easy to be joyful, to keep in mind the duty of delight.

The most significant thing about The Catholic Worker is poverty, some say.

The most significant thing is community, others say. We are not alone anymore.

But the final word is love. At times it has been, in the words of Father Zossima, a harsh and dreadful thing, and our very faith in love has been tried through fire.

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know him in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.

We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.

It all happened while we sat there talking, and it is still going on.

–DOROTHY DAY

The Long Loneliness originally published by Harper & Row, 1952

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3 Comments on “The Long Loneliness”

  1. Venus Says:

    Holy Moly!
    Thanks for the reminder.

    Love the work you do.
    Prayers for you guys always.

  2. Alicia Says:

    Thank you for posting this Dan! We were just sitting there talking (and a few other things) and along came six children and all the people that have come into our lives with them. As our material resources are stretched and our hearts with them, we find community all around us. God is good.

  3. Anne Says:

    Dear Dan,
    I’ve enjoying reading your entire blog and getting to know your school.
    Thank you for the wonderful piece about Dorothy Day. She should not be forgotten. I believe, along with Maria, Dorothy is one of the most significant women of the 20th century. I met her twice and read her book in college. In the early 1960s I found the Montessori essay on Peace in the Catholic Worker newspaper that Dorothy edited.


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