The word “exile” came to my awareness today as I was reading a book on inward pilgrimage. We are experiencing a massive global exile, away from the people we love, from familiar places and routines. We are in our physical houses and apartments, yet we are away from our spiritual homes. We are banished from our gathering places, our friends, our extended family members.
n. The condition or period of being forced to live away from one’s native country or home, especially as a punishment.
n. The condition or period of self-imposed absence from one’s country or home.
It can feel strange to be inside our house for such long periods of time. We start to notice the neglected maintenance, or the growing pile of papers that sit accusingly on the corner of the dining table. Some are taking this opportunity “Marie Kondo” their rooms or home offices.
We may also start to recognize our inward neglect, and that can generate a deep sense of unease. We may feel we need to distract ourselves from this discomfort. Now that many of us are in government-mandated isolation, we have moved from panic buying of toilet paper to panic doing. We are filling up our agendas with online classes, workshops, virtual movie viewing parties and happy hours.
But this exile is a blessed opportunity to have a deeper, and perhaps uncomfortable, conversation with ourselves.
“Sometimes you only understand your conversation through exile, and feeling really far away from yourself and your world.”
David Whyte, Insights at the Edge, Sounds True Audio Interview