Today, the Beatles’ classic Eleanor Rigby has been on my mind. They ask two questions in the song: “All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?” It’s actually sobering to seriously ponder this song, these questions, because when we do, we realize we have lonely people all around us.
There’s the old woman in a nursing home. She’s surrounded by nurses and other elderly people, but she’s never visited or cared for by the loved ones she cared for and looked after. And she’s lonely.
There’s an old man too. A war hero. But nobody remembers him or his service, nobody wants to listen to his stories, even though he needs to tell them. And he’s lonely.
There’s the stay-at-home mom whose last child has just flown the coop. Her world has centered around her children for many years, and now they are gone, and she has nothing. And she’s lonely.
There’s the man who has lost his job and is suddenly unable to provide for his family. He’s got dozens of people looking in, wondering what he did wrong, criticizing him, but no one to encourage him, help him out. And he’s lonely.
There’s the young mom with three little kids running around. She works a full-time job, but even when she’s home there is always some argument to be arbitrated, some diaper needing changed, and she’s worn out of her mind. She never has time alone, but she’s lonely.
There’s the recent college graduate who can’t even get a job, let alone a career. All of the odd jobs he did to make it through school don’t amount to anything. None of his friends get it. And he’s lonely.
There’s the college freshman, new on campus, not a friend around, but thousands of people she doesn’t know. And she’s lonely.
There’s the army brat, meeting new people all of the time, but never developing deep relationships with them. And he’s lonely.
There’s the child whose parents work around the clock and have no time or energy for her. And she’s lonely.
Where do they all come from?
Better question: where do they belong?
I’m revisiting the theme of Emmanuel (“God with us”) for an upcoming collaborative writing project, and that is what sparked my thoughts about lonely people.
I’m left questions: How does Jesus transform loneliness? If He visited each of the people mentioned above, what would change in their lives?
In short, what does it really mean that God is with us?