Loneliness. Every school day of my childhood I saw it written on Dad’s face when Mom, my siblings, and I hurried out the door. Even now, I close my eyes and can see him sitting in his wheelchair at the kitchen table, sipping coffee through a straw and waving good-bye. His grin couldn’t hide his dread of spending another day with only the television to keep him company.
In fact, Dad’s face came immediately to mind when I heard that Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, had appointed a Minister of Loneliness in response to the Cox Commission report which said the following about the pervasiveness isolation in society today:
“Young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate. Throughout 2017 we have heard from new parents, children, disabled people, carers, refugees and older people about their experience of loneliness.”
This report was already old news to Dad in the 1960s.
Had the report been issued in his day, he would have ridiculed the idea of a government appointing a minister of loneliness, the UK equivalent of a cabinet position in the US. Dad knew the government couldn’t cure his loneliness. He also knew that the people of God could.
And the people of God did.
Often, when my siblings and I came home from school, we found our pastor and Dad visiting in the living room. When a retired clergyman moved in down the street, he played cards with Dad several afternoons a week. Our uncle, who was married to Mom’s sister, often stopped on his way home from school to chat with Dad. Members of my parents’ Sunday school class dropped by, too. For years. For decades.
I can still see Dad’s joy when the people of God revealed His presence through them.
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