Mother Teresa stated in the book A Simple Path many years ago that the greatest disease of our society (in the west) is loneliness. I remember when I read it having a difficult time believing that this was in fact true. However Mother Teresa was not merely on to the glimmer of an idea but she was in fact entirely accurate in her assessment.
And worst the problem seems to be increasing
AND worst again we recognize it but do little if anything to combat or prevent it.
The change in loneliness can only decrease if we become willing participants in combating it by taking the time to visit or make a call in an effort to brighten someone else’s day.
There is rarely a week that this is not hammered home to me in the visits that I make. People are eager for a visit, to share a cup of tea or a meal together and even occasionally I am asked “can you bring your dog.” These sacred times are not to be rushed. They may last a short time or may take much longer. Usually there are means by which to make the visit last as long as possible so that they don’t have to spend the rest of the day alone. And inevitably there are the profuse thanks for the time that has been so well spent together. While these visits are so life giving to both of us I can not help feel a profound sense of sadness that people have so few visitors. It is not a mere criticism of families or society in general but also of our faith community. Our hospitality has to extend beyond the doors and our evangelism requires that we go out to meet them when they can no longer come to us in community.
It would be a lovely dialogue to participate in if one day someone begins the conversation with how many visitors they have been fortunate to have seen. Instead I am usually disappointed and hurt for the person that I have been the only point of contact to a church community where they were once actively engaged. I am disappointed for the person when I am told “if we didn’t see you we’d never hear from the church” and in the next breath enquire “how is everyone at the church?” Despite the loneliness and the definite feeling of loss of community thoughts and love for the community are never far from the person.
So, if we are to live out the love that we are called to share, show compassion and above all be intentional about the importance of extending hospitality then there are many improvements that we need to make. There are changes that we have to ensure happen so that people feel loved and valued again and as a result a little less lost and alone. We become intentional about the witness we offer and slowly, one person at a time we begin to eradicate the growing phenomenon of loneliness.
be missing you
that if they
did not miss you
it is because they do not
and have not seen
the incredible beauty
by michael d prihods