Tag Archives: prayer

The Strange Paradox of COVID-19. Saving the Lonely by making them Lonelier

Influenza epidemic in United States. St. Louis, Missouri, Red Cross Motor Corps on duty, October 1918. (National Archives)

By Larry Peterson

I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including the seemingly happy, satisfied, and successful. Yes, loneliness is capable of dragging the lonely into a world of hidden misery and often depression. It can attack anyone at any time, and it has become a social condition of almost epidemic proportions.

I have been widowed twice and know full well how loneliness can occupy a unique place in the widowed equation. Loneliness also reaches out and captures those who may have lost a child, a parent, a sibling, or even a dear friend. I carry the loneliness package from all of those

Suddenly, loneliness has been gifted with a new victim to feast on: it can now extend its ravenous appetite into the pandemic known as COVID-19, aka the coronavirus.  Loneliness is about to ravage the senior citizen in ways never imagined.  One way will be to take away their chairs and sofas.

I have been bringing Holy Communion to the homebound on Sundays for over twenty years. It may be the most uplifting thing I do and I know I have been spiritually rewarded many times over. This past Sunday, I confronted a new wrinkle among my visits. I have one lady, Virginia (she is 98), who resides in an independent living apartment. It is a reasonably long walk from the parking lot to the building entrance. Once there, you use a keypad to gain access. I scroll to Virginia’s name and get her on the speaker. She buzzes me in.

As the sliding doors open, I stop short. No one is there. Every Sunday, there are four or five, maybe six, people in the lobby sitting around chatting and just visiting with each other. They know my name, and I always get a friendly welcome from them.  We exchange a few pleasantries (I usually joke about something), and then I go on my way.

But this Sunday no one is there. I just stood there because it took me a few seconds to realize that no one was there because the furniture was gone. The lobby was empty. There was no sofa, or chairs, or coffee table. They had been removed, and there was no place to sit and talk. This was done courtesy of the management “protecting” the residents against COVID-19 or coronavirus. We must keep the elderly SAFE. No problem; just keep them in their rooms—ALONE.

The situation impacted me deeply. I have been visiting the sick and homebound for a long time, and they do not ask for much. However, in their low profile quiet world, they look forward to sitting together (if possible) and just talking about whatever it is they talk about. My visit is a big deal for them. I see each of my folks for about ten minutes each, sometimes a bit longer.

I may be the only visitor they see all week. Yet my visit buoys them up for my next visit which is a week away.  The folks that gather in the lobby every week are non-catholic and do not receive. But I do get to say a short prayer with them, and they like my doing it. So do I.

But now, on this Sunday morning in March of the year 2020, it seems things have changed in a way no one could have ever imagined.  The powers that be want us to be alone. They want us to avoid each other, not touch each other, and become individual entities. But we are social beings and like it or not; we need each other. We need to touch and hold and shake hands and hug, especially among family and friends.

Nursing homes all over the country have been placed on “lockdown.” Patients in these places will be relegated to their beds. Family and friends will not be allowed to visit them. Independent living apartments will have empty lobbies and courtyards. There will be no place for the tenants to sit and congregate.

Will our country and maybe the world soon have billions of separate individuals with no one to talk to or visit with.  It is such a strange paradox; saving the lonely by making them lonlier than they already are.

We had all better pray like we never prayed before that this coronavirus is vanquished quickly.  We cannot live this way for very long.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Loneliness and Thanksgiving: Thoughts from a Catholic man

God is the Answer because without Him there is no Hope

Loneliness & Thanksgiving                                                         metro.co.uk.

By Larry Peterson

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

This will be the third Thanksgiving since my wife passed away, and when you become widowed, there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including those who are seemingly happy, contented, and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.

However, many who have experienced loss manage to bounce back and find contentment, peace, and even love again. Others cannot—why is that? The common denominator seems to be that those people who have God in their lives were never alone at all. Those who do not—remain alone. The first consequence of rejecting God is the loss of Hope.  They have allowed Hope to be erased from their spirit.

The results of losing Hope are devastating. In fact, the loneliness factor in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Here are a few statistics that show how losing  Hope has affected our nation. Loss of Hope leads to despair, and the ones affected most by this loss are the Generation Z people, those who are in the 18 to 22-year-old range. I have grandchildren older than that. The entire concept of these young people, fresh out from adolescence and beginning adulthood, having lost Hope is so sad.  How can this be?

Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness has become rampant in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale  (yes, they have a loneliness scale), which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How heartbreaking is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor, which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

Isn’t it interesting that nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings? And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered. The numbers are mind-boggling. We are a nation of almost 330 million people. If 47% say they feel “alone” that is nearly half the country. We only have to go back 25 years to the early “90s to see the rapid decline in the absence of Hope.

Since then, there has been a 58% decline in club meetings, a 43% drop in family dinners, and children have their playtime regulated, depriving them of natural social development. People use their phones to message each other, apply for jobs, get interviewed, quit jobs, break up with their boyfriends or girlfriends, file divorce papers, and do all sorts of interactions without having to go face to face with a person, never saying one word.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and never be alone. They might be taught to think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

We must count our blessings on Thanksgiving, especially knowing that more than half of all Americans still believe in and honor God in their lives and that we have the freedom to do it. This Thanksgiving, millions upon millions of us will pray together thanking God for all we have. We should also pray for all those who do not have Hope in their lives. We know it can always be reignited and prayer can be the kindling used to fire up the Hope lying dormant in so many. God is just waiting to be asked to light the match.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2019

 

Thanksgiving: a Time to Pause, be Humble, and Give THANKS to GOD

Thanksgiving family prayer——————Facebook

By Larry Peterson

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.  ~ Psalms 50:14-15

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Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we stop, take a breath from the year gone by, and say THANK YOU to God for all that we have. The simplicity of this holiday embraces a quiet virtue which exposes itself that day. On this day that virtue manages to transcend all the daily pride that infects so many of us. That virtue is Humility.

We gather with family or friends, reconnecting and maybe “forgetting” past grievances. Many times the lofty and the lowly will sit together and break bread together, strangers in a food center equally sharing the bounty He has so graciously bestowed upon us. Yes, we are ALL God’s children.

The spirit of this holiday is a beautiful thing. All we have to do is “show up.” We do not even have to bring gifts. Just put a smile on your face, expose a thankful heart, and be yourself. And sometimes the dessert will include some “Humble pie.” At times it is the best way to finish the holiday meal.

Wishing anyone who might read this a God filled and beautiful Thanksgiving Day. Below are two Thanksgiving prayers that should fit this great holiday.

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PRAYER of THANKSGIVING

by Walter Rauschenbusch

O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;   For the wide sky and the blessed sun,

For the salt sea and the running water,  For the everlasting hills

And the never-resting winds, For trees and the common grass underfoot.

We thank you for our senses,  By which we hear the songs of birds,

And see the splendor of the summer fields,  And taste of the autumn fruits,

And rejoice in the feel of the snow,  And smell the breath of the spring.

Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;  And save our souls from being so blind

That we pass unseeing,  When even the common thornbush

Is aflame with your glory,  O God our creator,

Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

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 From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors:

IN GRATITUDE

Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

             ©Larry Peterson 2018