We expect that Christmas and New Year celebrations will be times of gathering with our closest family and friends. It’s also a time of increased drinking and drugging; some to add to the celebration and some to numb the aching effects of loneliness.

At Nilde’s funeral on December 30th, I had a conversation with one of the funeral directors and commented on how it seems to me that there are more deaths at this time of year, especially around the holidays. His eyes widened and he replied,  “Absolutely! This is the busiest time of year for us. In the summer, we have times when there might only be one funeral in a week. This time of year we have back to back funerals.”

How ironic and subtle that our celebrations remind many of their acute loneliness.

In ‘The Great Gatsby’ author F. Scott Fitzgerald captured the emptiness of materialism in the Roaring Twenties. The narrator Nick Carraway said, “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”[1]

If you find yourself lonely and unsure, you are not really alone. Other loners are also longing for community and a close friend. God inhabits lonely places and seeks out every lost sheep.

In the life of Jesus, we see the bipolar nature of community. There is the needy crowd and the retreat to lonely places. Like Jesus, we can turn lonely places into venues for positive change.

Luke 5:
15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Let’s look at directions for the lonely that rhyme with ‘blue’.