This week, we spend time with the question,
“How do I foster wellbeing if I’m feeling lonely?”
I heard an interview recently with 19th US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in which he pointed out that loneliness is an incredibly subjective thing to measure. It describes the disparity between how much social interaction you
, and how much you actually
, and that baseline level of
is different for everyone. That means you could be sheltering in place alone or with your family but still feel lonely, and that is completely normal.
(Let me also mention that if you’re locked down with kids, they might not know how to express it, but they may be experiencing similar feelings of loneliness, and much of what we’re about to walk through could also be beneficial for them if they’re open to it.)
In this season, the research points out that we can be
alone without being
alone. Dr. Laurie Santos of Yale University says that
intentionally connecting in real time online, over Zoom or FaceTime, for instance,
can actually be almost as effective as face-to-face interaction
. That means things like Zoom yoga, Zoom dinner with family or friends, Zoom choir, or Zoom Sunday School… they might feel weird at first, but you’d be surprised at how quickly they can become the new normal.
But, while it’s important to our wellbeing to connect with others, it’s also very tempting to confuse that need with the drive to
from what you’re feeling.
As important as it is to connect, it’s also important to learn to embrace the silence and solitude.
There’s a rhythm to it, moving back and forth between the two, and this may be an opportunity to better learn that rhythm.
In our liturgy, we often use Nan C. Merrill’s paraphrases of the psalms, and one of her favorite titles for God is the constant “Companioning Presence,” who we meet in the silence. “Companioning Presence.” This challenge is also an opportunity to discover, like the mothers and fathers of the faith that
solitude in the desert, that we too can discover the Holy Spirit of Life that lives at our core.
It is an opportunity to get in touch with that which connects us to all other life, and remember that we are only one expression, one member of the Great Body of Christ. It’s an opportunity to bring awareness to that innate connection we have with all expressions of life, an awareness that cradles and speaks softly to our fears of loneliness.
As a prayer practice several weeks back, we read through
Blessing for Dining Alone
from Jan Richardson's collection of poetry,
The Cure for Sorrow
. To engage that practice with us, you can go to
As always, please let us know if you'd like to get together (digitally or over the phone) to talk about it more. I'd love to hear what you think and how you're doing.