Posts Tagged ‘lonely

12
Dec
22

Excluded

They were all there. 

Standing close. Knowingly nudging each other. Laughing. 

Sharing so much more than space and time.

They were sharing themselves.

It was the place I desperately wanted to be but couldn’t.

I watched them and ached. 

Left out.

At one time or another, each of us has known the pain of standing on the outside looking in. We know that pain because belonging is a core human hunger. Some contend that the central truth of the Genesis creation story is the reminder that we were divinely created for connection with others. 

When that connection is missing in our lives, we seek it as ferociously as a mother seeking her lost child. 

This time of year can be a time when those vital human connections are revived. When we seek the warmth and shelter of community. When we revel in relationships. Hearths are kindled, carols are sung, and hot toddies are poured, as much to warm our souls as our bodies.

Which makes it even more important to recognize that this season can also serve as a stinging reminder of emptiness for some of our neighbors. As they watch us clink our cups of wassail and deck our halls, they feel a deep stab of loneliness, reminded of a joy they once felt.

There we are, gathered gaily around the hearth while they stand outside in the cold, sobbing at the window.

I am not sure I have ever referenced Saturday Night Live here in this space, but there’s a first time for everything! Just this past Saturday, December 10, the cold open sketch (called, appropriately, Blocking it Out for Christmas) was all about the time-honored practice of using the Christmas season as a time to stuff down all our fears, anxieties, griefs, and sorrows and pretend to, “eat, drink, and be merry.” 

Here is that link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRjjKVRaAik

My prayer for today is that we each remember we don’t have to “block it out,” or ignore the pain that can often be the unwelcome guest at our Christmas celebrations. Instead, let this season be a reminder that just as God became “enfleshed” as a tiny baby, we are each called to similarly enflesh our love for one another in practical acts. 

Abundant Christmas blessings;

08
Jul
19

The Overmow

Mowing the lawn“… outdo one another in showing honor.”                                    Romans 12:10, NRSV

My next-door neighbor and I are in a competition.

Not that I’m keeping score or anything, but I think I just went ahead by one earlier today. (Self high five!)

We are competing on neighborliness with a little thing I call the “gracious overmow.”

Here is how it works; if I happen to get out and mow my grass before Tom – my neighbor to the west – mows his, I don’t stop mowing at our property line. I go all the way over to the side of his house… mowing grass that actually belongs to him.

And if Tom happens to get out and mow his grass before me, he does the same.

We never actually talk about it. We just do it.

I have also tried to practice gracious overmowing with my neighbor to the east, but he apparently hasn’t caught on to how the system works.

Honestly, it is a little bit of a pain when I am the one doing the overmowing. It makes my mowing time about 50 percent longer than usual. But when Tom beats me to the punch… it is AWESOME!

Zip, zip! Done!

It all made me wonder… could this be done on a larger scale? Could I find other areas of life in which I might “overdo” a kind gesture?

Could I, for example:

  • “Overshovel” my neighbor’s sidewalk in the winter?
  • Pull weeds from my neighbor’s yard?
  • Fetch my wife a Diet Coke before she even asks me?
  • Graciously allow a fellow motorist to cut in front of me in traffic?
  • Pick up someone else’s dog poop? (Ew, no… scratch that one. Too gross.)
  • Leave that last box of corn flakes on the grocery shelf for someone who might need it more than me?
  • Toss someone’s newspaper a little closer to their house than the paperboy did?

And could I do it, not just for nice guys like my neighbor Tom, but could I do this stuff for total strangers, too? … Or for people that are kind of grumpy, disagreeable, and hard to get along with?

What a concept!

But then, as I was contorting my right arm into a pretzel shape trying to pat myself on the back for having such kind-hearted, altruistic thoughts, I heard a voice. As I listened a little more closely, it seemed to be the voice of Jesus, whispering to me…

“Dude…” he said. “If you call yourself a follower of mine that’s the kind of stuff you should be doing anyway. Routinely. It’s nice, but honestly, it’s no biggie.”

He continues, “Don’t just stop with a few cutesy, quaint little gestures like that. Feed the hungry. Visit the sick. Go to the prisons and comfort those unjustly confined. Locate injustices in the world and become actively engaged in righting them.”

“If you really want to make a difference, take a few risks. Stick your neck out. Try doing something that just might be unpopular enough to LOSE you a friend or two… even though it’s the right thing. Don’t be content to stick to the safe stuff that makes people like you more.”

“Come back and talk to me after you have been unjustly criticized for advocating for the people I tend to hang out with… you know, the misfits, the outcasts, and the people on the margins. I probably won’t give you a medal or anything, but I’ll be pleased.”

Gee thanks, Jesus.

You really know how to rain on a guy’s parade, don’t you?

Think I’ll go mow my yard now.




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