Pastor’s Letter, February 2019
The Power and Gift of Loneliness
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I hear it a lot. In fact, I heard it this morning: “I’ve got cabin fever.” On this morning as I compose this letter, it is snowing outside, and there’s an expected accumulation of five to eight inches of snow. I am sitting in my home office and glancing out the window as the white powder falls on trees, on tables, on railings. I’m attentive to the mysterious silence of snow, and the way it isolates me, at least for the day, and how it also forces me to confront my aloneness.
I doubt there is anyone who might be reading this letter, who hasn’t experience loneliness at some point, in their life. I am not thinking so much about the deep ache of loneliness, the kind that ravages us when we lose someone we love, or that of a broken heart. I’m talking about the type of loneliness that insists we live and participate in the world.
There is something essential, crucial and vital about loneliness. I’ve come to believe it is both God-given and God-driven for several reasons. For one, it is God-given so that we don’t live in isolation and so that we understand that no one is an island, that we absolutely need one another.
Yes, we are a part of the Body of Christ, but we are also a part of the Body of Humanity. It’s God-driven so that we will not settle for less than walking through this life with Christ. We must always be aware of God’s presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and grasp with grace-filled hearts, that we are never alone.
Loneliness and aloneness are two experiences that I’ve had to think about of late as I’ve had the privilege of officiating at several funerals this month. I am reminded that at the end of our lives, we will all face God. We will stand alone before God for a life review. No one will be there to accept blame for our choices. We are responsible for what we’ve done with our days, having been given the grace of eternal life, and knowing that Jesus Christ has taken our place at the judgment seat. It’s a sobering thought, and one worth taking the time to think about. Maybe cabin fever is not an illness, but a reminder of our longing to connect with God and with one another, for no life is complete without both. Maybe we could even go so far as to say that loneliness is a gift of the Spirit if we are willing to open it.
So on this day, and throughout the wintery cold, snowy, days, may we pay attention to God-given and God-driven loneliness and aloneness, and live better for having paid rightful attention to it.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Be glad, be wise, and listen to the snow.
May we gain a heart of wisdom.
In His Name that is Above All Names,