By: District President Dr. Tony Steinbronn
After the Lord God had formed “the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” so that man could become a living being, He observed that there was something missing in the life of Adam; for “it is not good for the man to be alone.”
Human beings are created to be in relationships; even the most introverted among us, has a need from time to time to be in the company of others. One of the major maladies of the human condition is loneliness and social isolation. We need only think of the plight of those who were lepers during the time of Jesus and how they had to shout “unclean, unclean” whenever healthy individuals would enter their social space.
For us who were socially active back in the 1960s, we remember these lyrics from Eleanor Rigby (Beatles) observing the loneliness of many, many people despite living in the densely populated city of London…“ah, look at all the lonely people; where do they come from?”
Or, more recently, these words from Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day)…“I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known; don’t know where it goes but it’s home to me and I walk alone.”
One of the more powerful scenes from the film industry that addressed the felt need of relationships (and community) took place in Cast Away. The movie was about a FedEx systems engineer, Chuck Noland, who was stranded on an island for four years because of a plane crash. Because of his loneliness, one of the options that he considered was suicide.
One day, as Chuck was trying to make fire, he cut his hand; and, in his anger, he threw a Wilson volleyball against a tree and cried out in a primal scream that no one could hear. As he regained himself and before he resumed his attempt to make fire Chuck, in his need to have a companion, picked up the volleyball, took it out of its packaging, and began to “create” the face of Wilson on the surface of the volleyball; using his own blood (from his injured hand), sweat (from the brow of his forehead) and saliva (from his mouth).
Most fascinating to me was the conversation that Chuck began to have with Wilson as he tried to make his fire -- asking Wilson “you wouldn’t have a match, would you” (so that he wouldn’t have to be working so hard, trying to ignite a fire with the straw and pieces of wood that he was rubbing together) -- and sharing with Wilson his fear “that they may never find us.”
Later in the movie, we have the scene where we get to see the cave where Chuck lived and located on the wall of the cave were the portraits of people who were important in Chuck’s life: the picture of his fiancée, and then there is the portrait of Wilson on the ball, and then another portrait of Wilson without the ball in the background as Wilson began to take on an identity and life of his own.
The most powerful scene, though, is when Chuck managed to escape the island on a raft, bringing Wilson with him. While they are at sea, the part of the raft where Wilson is located breaks away, causing Wilson to drift away to sea. Frantically Chuck tries to locate Wilson and to rescue him but he is not able to; in his grief, he chastises himself for not safeguarding Wilson’s life, laments the loss of his friend, and cries himself to sleep.
The movie script of Cast Away does a masterful job of illustrating the felt need that every human being has for meaningful relationships and how it is not good to be alone. God, in His goodness to the entire human race, blesses us with other people so that we do not have to be alone in this life.
Thankfully the social distancing that we are living with will not last four years as it did for Chuck Noland. Until we are able to be in the presence of many others, we are thankful for the people who we are able to be with each day and for the many ways that God has given us to communicate with, and care for, each other: the telephone and the various forms of social media -- texting, Facetime, Facebook, etc.
If you know of someone who is alone and who is experiencing the effects of loneliness in his or her life, give them a phone call or text them a message so that they may experience your friendship and experience His love and care through you.
Blest be the tie that binds…our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds…is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne…we pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one…our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes…our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows…the sympathizing tear.
When here our pathways part…we suffer bitter pain;
Yet, one in Christ and one in heart…we hope to meet again.
From sorrow, toil and pain…and sin we shall be free.
And perfect love and friendship reign…through all eternity.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.