And for those who are alone

That’s part of the Prayers of the People that the Intercessor bids us remember as we observe ourselves as community and pray for everyone in it.

We then leave it to God to take care of “those who are alone”, our duty done by mentioning them in the morning’s prayers, giving rise to our satisfaction that we have consigned ‘those who are alone’ to God’s care. Nothing more that we have to do.

Oh, but there is. Many of us live alone either by choice or by chance, but alone we are. When we gather on Sunday morning with our fellow parishioners, we seem less alone, and for the time it takes for the service and coffee afterwards, we aren’t. We therefore add to the prevailing notion that God is doing God’s job in taking care of us ‘who are alone’, leaving everyone else to go about their lives without a second thought about us ‘who are alone.”

Friday nights and Saturday nights are another thing entirely for ‘those who are alone.’ I wondered today how many of us phoned up Deedra Hardman, who lived alone, to see if she might want to come over for supper or take in a film or go out to a concert. I didn’t, and perhaps that was part of my feelings of grief as I sat there at her funeral, more than conscious of the lost opportunities that I took for granted and put off. The Cathedral nave was filled with friends there to mourn her death and to celebrate her life among us, but how alone was she?

Then a look around the Nave as I got into the pulpit to read. Many of us count among ‘those who are alone,’ and a different sadness swept over me as I regained my seat. Not time for an exact count, but quite a number of us ‘who are alone” who would leave the service and reception to follow and return to aloneness.

I don’t mean this writing to be a diatribe nor a lament per se, but instead, a reminder that we are God’s hands in this life and those hands are meant to do God’s work. While we pray for ‘those who are alone’ and hope for their security and health, we can do a great deal toward their happiness. Phone up someone who lives alone and ask him or her over for a hamburger sometime. If you don’t phone (so old-fashioned, huh?), then maybe a text message or an email to invite one of ‘those who are alone’ out for a drink or a movie. In short, let’s be in touch, and not wait around to show our regard for our friends who are alone until we gather to watch their ashes being carried up the Cathedral’s central aisle.

Robert Heylmun

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