September 21, 2012

Reaching Out to Touch Someone…

Facebook has made birthdays fun again…. I’ll confess: I was looking forward to opening my Facebook account this morning, with the expectation that it would be filled with birthday greetings. I wasn’t disappointed.

Being noticed – and acknowledged – makes me feel good. It tells me that I matter. And today, as I enjoy the good feelings that come from this affirmation, I’m thinking about how we, as people of faith, send affirmations to others, especially people who are alone or lonely, scared, hurt, or sad:

  • Richelle Thompson blogged about this in her Remembering post, sharing examples of faith leaders who sent birthday and anniversary cards to members of their congregation (past and present).
  • Yesterday my local newspaper ran an article headlined “Need a helping hand with a chore?” in their Seniors column. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church offers assistance to elders needing help with household/yard chores, making a person-to-person connection with people who may be isolated or alone.
  • I remember how excited my grandmother was after a visit from a lay member of her congregation. Haven given up driving several years earlier, she missed Sunday services yet was reluctant to accept offers (from people she didn’t know) of a ride to and from church. With her only regular connection to the congregation being the weekly newsletter, my grandmother felt cut off from a community that had once been an important part of her identity. These regular visits – and the resulting friendship - made her feel valued by the congregation and made it possible for her to once again worship on Sundays.

It’s not always easy finding people who are in need of human contact or kindness. Sometimes the people who crave contact the most don’t know how to ask for it. I recently read a piece sharing the story of a man who felt abandoned by his faith leader: This man had been sick and wrote how disappointed he felt that no one from his church had called on him. When asked if he had let anyone know of his illness, the man confessed that while some friends knew, he expected someone else to tell the priest or for the priest to notice his absence and to follow up.

My birthday resolution is to pay more attention, and to make human connections, more of a priority. What about you? How are you finding – and reaching out to – people in your communities who are in need of human contact or kindness?