Saturday’s message from the pulpit – this 2nd weekend of the Easter season – focused on loneliness. Thomas, specifically. Yes, the odd-disciple-out from the upper room story. That guy.
At no point in the gospel story, as our Pastor was gracious to note, was loneliness scribed into accepted biblical words. Three days after the death of Jesus, where was Thomas? Were the other disciples missing Jesus? All of a sudden, the eleven were alone … grieving. Possibly, Thomas was sad, too. Alone.
Have we been alone as well these past two years as well?
Loneliness creates chemical changes in our bodies. I wasn’t aware loneliness has the ability to slam a wrecking ball into our bodies. It is like hunger, according to some studies. Those same studies suggest we are experiencing an epedemic of loneliness in America. Geesh.
As I walked along our local street last evening, this image caught my attention:
It is what I’ve named a likable loneliness. These shadowy arms embraced my every, single step. It was as if a solitary, bare tree recognized my moments of reflection inside this early-Easter seasoned brain.
Thomas was there.
Through Pastor Dave’s words, I heard Thomas’ possible loneliness. My silently barked friend held arms around me for a few moments as I headed back to sit casually behind an organ. In the shadow of loss, a pandemic, medical challenges, mental stress, business worries, and familial pulls, … I felt a calm – a friend. A likable loneliness.
During the third service – while listening to the sermon again – I reasoned we may have two probable, colorful spaces … with many shades in between, of course.
First, we should take a deep breath, look inward, and find something unique to like about ourselves when alone. Second, when in a crowd and feeling alone, remembering we still are that unique and special individual we saw when alone could help de-stress the feeling of loneliness.
Too many folks are way more qualified than I. A licensed talk-to I am not. I do, however, talk to my piano. It takes on human therapist qualities and I would swear to anyone those keys speak back to me. I am never alone when gracing the black-and-white sweet tenders.
Answers to loneliness aren’t easy. The Pastor’s messages aren’t intended to set answers in concrete. By my estimation, they never are. This is what good sermons are supposed to do: challenge the listener to dig deeper … dive into a pool of information and thought. In other words, don’t just take his, or her, word for it.
I bring a different perspective to the table. A bit of a sceptic, I am. “Where was Thomas?”: those now familiar words as Pastor Dave began the sermon that first Saturday evening. My ears perked up. A perfect beginning for my cynical cerebelum. From all three listenings, I gained additional pleasure.
Maybe not as much as being hugged by the shadows of a lonely tree, but enough to help me understand being alone – sometimes – is a magical place to be.