Robert Coles, in describing Simone Weil, once suggested that what she really suffered from and what motivated her life was her moral loneliness.

What is that?

Moral loneliness is what we experience when we ache for a soul mate. We are lonely in different ways: We always feel some distance from others, always feel some restlessness that cannot be alleviated even within our deepest experiences of intimacy, and always feel an inchoate nostalgia for a home we can never quite find. There is loneliness, a restlessness, an aching, a yearning, a longing, an appetitiveness, a disquiet, a nostalgia, a timelessness, and a sexual inconsummation inside of us that never quite gives us easy rest. We are, in the words of Toni Morrison, soul-chained to deep things outside of ourselves.

Moreover this dis-ease lies at the center of our experience, not at its edges. We are not restful persons who sometimes get restless, serene persons who sometimes experience disquiet, or fulfilled persons who once in a while get frustrated. Rather we are restless beings who occasionally find rest, disquieted persons who sometimes find solitude and serenity, and dissatisfied men and women who at times find satisfaction.

And, among all these multifarious yearnings, one is deeper than all the others: What we really long for, beneath everything else, is a moral partner, someone to meet us in the depth of our souls, someone from whom we don’t have to hide what’s truest inside of us, and someone who understands and spontaneously honours all that is most precious to us. Someone like that would be a true soul-partner and more than we long someone to sleep with sexually, we long for someone to sleep with in this way, morally. What does this mean?

Scripture and the mystics, unafraid of earthy and sexual images, express it best. What we ultimately long for is soul-consummation. Here is an image from the Song of Songs (3, 1-4)

On my bed at night I sought my beloved: