How do you conceptualize loneliness? Is loneliness an environment, an entity, or a fear? For me, it’s all of the above. I fear that if I give energy to trying to understand my loneliness, I legitimize it: give it power. But if we don’t make an effort to grasp our loneliness, its grasp on us can get stronger! Despite being immersed in social media and close-knit environments, college can feel isolated and lonely. Especially as winter approaches, we should ask ourselves: how does this feeling impact our cultural, spiritual, and physical health? Can we greet, assess, and process our loneliness in a healthy way?
The answer is yes! Initiating a conversation about loneliness can be difficult. It can be even more difficult to frame that conversation as one about belonging.
The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life is co-sponsoring “Be-Longing”, a one-week interactive pop-up exploring the theme of loneliness. Offering students and community members the opportunity to process longing through creative channels, the installation is in the Nolen Art Lounge from November 26th to December 3rd. Each day, a new prompt will be presented to guide participants in their introspection. In an excerpt from the event’s press release, stations include: “written, visual and black out poetry shared on a wall, mask making, self-portraiture, collage materials, a self-compassion space, and the unfolding of a group art piece using threads.” Films will be on rotation from The UnLonely project: an arts-based initiative tackling stigmas about loneliness and understand its effects.
The installation began with an Opening Reception on November 26th, from 5:30-7:30pm. Susannah Crolius of Art & Soul Northampton led an interactive conversation, founded in her practice of using art as an introspective tool. Susannah sees the practice of creativity as one that blurs lines between work, spirituality, and expression. If you missed the interactive reception, don’t stress! Susannah facilitates The Nest in Northampton, described as a “refuge for contemplation and inspiration, an apothecary of art materials for discovery, creative spirituality for inner hospitality and a place for the curious to gather.” (Art and Soul Western Mass) As you settle back into our routine after Thanksgiving break, stop by the Nolen Art Lounge to engage in “Be-Longing”.