The feeling of being alone can be a welcome reprieve once in a while. Sometimes, we just need to get away from it all and have time to ourselves. That alone time can be extremely valuable to many of us. But, being alone and being lonely are very different things.
Today, the feeling of being isolated and lonely is rapidly on the rise, particularly among the elderly. Increasingly, people report that they feel abandoned and that “nobody cares about them.” Left to spend days, weeks and even months on their own, lonely people feel tossed aside and completely alone in the world. Isn’t that sad? I think it’s beyond “sad” — I think its heartbreaking. Can you imagine what their days are like? Sitting there bored, sad, scared and unloved? How tragic that in this day and age, anyone should be made to feel abandoned.
I came across a short story that I thought spoke to the growing loneliness crisis and I want to share it with our readers:
Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone.
Once he survives the night, he is a man.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.
The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm? The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold.
It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.
We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us.When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.
“Human beings can withstand a week without water, two weeks without food, many years of homelessness, but not loneliness. It is the worst of all tortures, the worst of all sufferings.” – Paulo Coelho
It is morally incumbent upon each of us to make sure no person or animal we know is ever lonely. When we hear of an elderly person who lives alone, perhaps with no family near or even left, our first reaction is to think “oh, that’s so sad….” But rather than just that nice sentiment, what we should really do is reach out to them — call them, visit, drop them a letter now and then, invite them to lunch or over for dinner or, go to their house and make lunch for them.
Lonely people desperately need to know that they are not alone. They need to be rescued from their pit of despair and brought back into the light. Please, if you know of someone who may be alone/isolated/lonely, think about reaching out to them and make them once again feel cared for and loved.
“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” – Mother Teresa