Sometimes, amidst the holiday hustle and bustle, I feel lonely.

Do you?

I don't quite know why and maybe that doesn't matter.

What matters - I am learning - is that I pay attention to the loneliness, even learn from it.

Becoming a student of loneliness demands I sink down into it. That I feel it, all the way down. That I don't try to deny it, push it away, or seek to get out from under it.

I am discovering - often painfully - that loneliness has much to say to me, much wisdom to offer, even a gentle kind of friendship.

Hafiz - a Persian poet from the 14th century - writes eloquently about our misunderstood friend in this lovely, haunting poem.

"Don't surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,
My need of God

Hafiz, 1320 – 1389