I pull into the parking lot today and am surprised to find my name tag getting snowed on. I must have dropped it as I left yesterday and there it sat, all night, in the cold (and now the snow), alone.
The title I have scrawled on this name tag is “Super Hero”. A bit arrogant? Perhaps. But there’s a story that goes with it, though I’ll refrain from telling it here. Suffice it to say, I dig superheroes.
And the superhero I put at the top of the list?
Sure he’s an alien and not really a “man”. And by “super” we mean basically overpowered, having nearly every superpower that matters – strength, x-ray vision, shoots lasers out of his eyes, cold breath, impenetrable skin, and if that wasn’t enough, he flys. He does have a physical weakness…the dreaded Kryptonite (which bad guys seem to have a pretty easy job finding when they need it), so that balances everything out, right?
Not really. Superman is amazing and the opportunities for him to use any and all of his powers seemingly endless.
Yet, with all the world-saving and damsel-rescuing, Superman also withdraws. He pulls away from the crowds and goes to a quiet place to rest, recharge, focus. (If it was good enough for Jesus…)
He retreats to the Fortress of Solitude.
Perhaps because he is so unique on this planet, or because he has such demands on his time, he finds the need to be alone. To retreat to a place where he can take off the cape, slip into some footy jammies and just be…
Most of the time I think of alone as lonely. It’s not a good thing. Not something to desire or seek out. I don’t want to eat alone, watch movies alone, walk through Disneyland alone. Most of the time I crave relationship. Connectedness. Togetherness.
And most of the time, Superman does as well.
But sometimes, we need to withdraw. Sometimes we need to retreat (some additional thoughts on this). Sometimes we need to choose to go off by ourselves and just be…
There is a different kind of strength that comes when we get comfortable in our own skins. There is a power that comes from understanding one can make a difference.
Alone doesn’t need to be scary or depressing. It doesn’t have to mean unwanted or unloved. In fact, alone can be a sign of confidence and purpose. Alone can be the leader who stands in the face of great opposition. The martyr who won’t compromise her/his principles. The servant who expects no reward. The champion who uses lesser-known superpowers – humility, mercy, justice, grace, love – to impact the lives of those who feel truly alone, forgotten, unseen, unimportant.
You see, alone does not have to mean isolated or insulated. Alone can be what we are/do so we can be better together.
Life is better together,