In 1966, The Beatles recorded the famous song that asked this question. The song, as you all know, was about a fictitious person named Eleanor Rigby. The poor soul... but it could be about any number of people... some of whom you might even know.
Last night, my family attended the Good Friday Tenebrae service at our church, and after the service, as the congregation silently exited the darkened church, I noticed that one of the parishioners, who is also in the small group that I lead, was still seated, and staring forward. When I put my hand on her shoulder and smiled at her in a silent greeting, she smiled at me with the biggest smile I had ever seen from her, and she reached up and squeezed my hand as hard as I can ever remember anyone squeezing it. I kept the smile on my face while we had our brief moment, even though I wanted to scream blue murder, because I have some sort of really ugly tendonitis going on.
As she let go of my hand, looking relieved for some reason, I started thinking. I took stock of what I know of her, and it came to me (and of course, I could be totally wrong here) the she probably hasn't felt the welcome touch of a human being since she visited her children and grand children a month or so ago. This lady lives alone, and like so many of us in this area, commutes to and from Washington, DC every day to work long hours on behalf of of the American people. She attends services alone and socializes little. I had/have the feeling that she is lonely.
The thing is, that there are lots of lonely people, some of them are folks you probably wouldn't suspect. Some of the loneliest people in our society are the elderly. Many of whom are in nursing homes, or are living alone with limited mobility, and no family nearby to help or visit them. Is it any wonder that pet therapy is so popular and useful in America's nursing homes?
You may know lonely people who aren't elderly. A single friend, who is hard-working, fun to be around, successful, and behind her/his own four walls, in a terrible state because they have no one of their own to share themselves with... who have no one to give them a hug or give them a reassuring touch. The lonely person might be married... because, well... you know... Ozzie and Harriet were fictional characters.
Let's not pretend, my friends, that we don't need those things. We do. All of us.
I want you all to do me a favor. Think of someone that you know that might be in this situation, and the next time you see them, give them a handshake.... put your hand on their shoulder... give them a hug. Look them in the eye and let then know that you care about them. Let them know they aren't alone.
I'm sure that we will see this lady at church tomorrow... I think that we'll invite her to dinner.