Metropolitan Bartolomeu of Cluj talks about loneliness and how it becomes a terrible burden without Christ. He recounts his meeting with a venerable old artist: “Behold, a man applauded and cheered by many generations, almost like an idol, and now, at the end of his life, he is a forgotten person, because other idols have arisen on the stage of the Romanian Opera, and other generations adore them”.
Met. Bartolomeu Anania:
Years ago, before I was a bishop, I was crossing the Cișmigiu Park in Bucharest, and there, by chance, I met a former great artist of Romanian Opera. A great artist, great singer with an extraordinary scenic presence, which was, in a way, the artistic idol of my generation, and the idol of at least another twenty generations from his artistic career.
I haven’t seen him for quite some time, we didn’t know each other very well but it was enough for us to respectfully greet one another and exchange a friendly conversation. He was retired for quite some time, he was old aged, I offered a handshake and asked him that routine question that often comes up, “How are you, Maestro?”
To which he answers: “Father, I’m in a great distress, I suffer from loneliness… I feel all alone in this world. I had no children, my wife has passed away, I have a house which is my property, I have a satisfactory retirement salary, in other words, I have what to eat and a shelter, but I have no one to talk to. The day passes by as I await for night to come, and the night passes by as I await for the dawn… Nobody phones me, and I feel greatly affected by this great suffering called ‘loneliness'”.
We parted ways, and I pondered a while saying to myself: “Behold, a man applauded and cheered by many generations, almost like an idol, and now, at the end of his life, he is a forgotten person, because other idols have arisen on the stage of the Romanian Opera, and other generations adore them, and nobody remembers anything about him. I thought that not even his colleagues, those who were still alive…
I thought to myself, maybe unjustly, that great artists become prideful as well and they look down on their colleagues and on those younger than them… if not with disdain, but with some coldness and indifference, and the repercussions are felt later, for those that felt spiritually offended by this, by Maestro’s indifference, prefer not to remember him in his time of sorrow.
Solitude is indeed terrible, when you have no one at your side… And he didn’t have even a consolation beyond the human condition [he was not religious].
I, as it is well known, I am not fond of speaking about my suffering in the Communist prisons, but I want to testify, from my own experience and not from books, that I was subjected a long time to solitary confinement… Where you are alone in a cell… unable to exchange a few words with someone, not even to argue.
Loneliness is terrible, but I was not alone because I had faith, and I had Jesus Christ next to me… which became my Friend and permanent Companion…
Where man was absent, God was present.