Greta Garbo once famously said in a movie script line:
“I want to be alone”.
The line worked for her and gave her the image of being this distant, mysterious alluring person. There has been all kinds of speculation as to whether she is still alive. Some people have claimed to have had sightings of her on the east side of Manhattan in New York.
Isolation and intrigue may work for you, if you have unlimited financial resources, but for most of us loneliness can feel like an overwhelming burden. As a society, we are spending increasingly less time together. Most of us drive to work alone; work in offices or cubicles by ourselves. You can stay at home and have groceries delivered to you. You can also sit in front of your flat- screen television and order just about any movie you desire to watch.
Even church attendance is down and people are finding different ways to utilize their time as opposed to attending worship services on Sunday.
Recent findings have indicated:
“In the United States, about a quarter of the population lives alone. Marriage rates and the number of kids per U.S. household are also dropping, according to census data.” Chronic Loneliness Is a Modern-Day Epidemic | Fortunefortune.com › Venture › mental health
Van Morrison observed:
“ Well there’s Sarte and Camus, Nietzsche and Hesse
If you dig deep enough
You gonna end up in distress
And no one escapes having to live life under duress
And no on escapes the meaning of loneliness”
(Meaning Of Loneliness )
So, we can establish that loneliness is becoming a public health concern in our country. Scientific American has reported:
“In recent decades, the number of people with zero confidants has tripled, and most adults do not belong to a local community group. Consequently, more than one third of Americans over the age of 45 report feeling lonely, with prevalence especially high among those under 25 and over 65 years old. “We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization,” writes the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, “yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.”
A study at Harvard University that followed hundreds of people for 75 years identified the quality of people’s relationships as the single closest predictor of their physical health, longevity and quality of life. “ To Combat Loneliness, Promote Social Health – Scientific Americanhttps://www.scientificamerican.com/article/to-combat-loneliness-promote-social-health/
The message may be that we will need to spend less time looking at screens on our phones and computers and spend more time talking to one another in real time.
A church in Baltimore, MD offers a drop-in center to residents in the neighborhood. The people will gather to play cards, sing, play games. They also meet at the church for community neighborhood association meetings.
Another church in San Antonio, TX offers a regular weekly game night where members and friends will play cards, bridge, dominoes and check in with each other.
Conviviality is good for our health and our soul.
May we have courage to reach beyond our self, our comfort zone and reconnect with others for health and for wholeness.
May it be so.