A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Summer Adventures: Abolishing Loneliness

Loneliness is like lightning. It can strike in any place, at any time. Loneliness can impact all of us, not just some unlucky few. Loneliness played a major role in our period of isolation during the pandemic crisis. So, here in June … and July and August … and all the warm months for that matter … it is time to strike back. It’s time to counter loneliness with positive action of our own. Start right this very second, as you read this, stand up! Sit up straighter if standing is beyond you at this moment. Why? Because, exercise counters feelings of loneliness. Moving around releases endorphins, those happy hormone heroes, who chase those blues away.

While standing, get outside, go for a walk. Again, if walking is beyond you, go sit in the sunshine and look out the window. Don’t just look, actually, but really observe. We rarely take the time to do that. What will we discover? We will quickly find that we are watchers being watched by our fellow denizens of God’s creation. Many times I have found the wildlife I photograph watching me just as intently. Squirrel looking at usYou see here a squirrel looking back at me observed by deer from near and afar. While walking a trail I saw one buck off the trail watch intently as a person walked up the trail past that deer without ever being aware the deer was there. That deer kept watching until the hiker had passed and then bounded across the trail behind the hiker.

Walking the tow path along the canal in Mine Falls Park, thirty feet above Dog looking at usthe Nashua River and with the steep drop down to that river to my immediate left, I turned around and was startled to see a Red Tailed Hawk thirty feet up a tree and about twenty feet beyond the edge of the trail, right at my eye level, calmly watching me discover him. We are never truly alone if we take the time to look. We do not move through the world unobserved. Even the neighborhood dogs see us, and often remark on our passing. I call this dog the “neighborhood watch.”

Eat well, sleep well, and find a group to join or a place to volunteer to work. Call family or friends and catch up on the “news.” Call your pastor and we can talk too. Every little bit of human interaction helps. Would anyone like to create a photography club for the church? I’d be a willing member of such a group and can offer an incentive, the best nature photos appearing on future bulletin covers (properly credited, of course).

Finally, God is always with us. Joshua 1:9 gives us courage on all our adventures: “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Jesus, in Matthew 28:20, assures us, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” May all of this help us combat loneliness whenever it unexpectedly strikes. God bless us all.

~Pastor Jeff Snyder