Saturday, September 29, 2007

It’s good . . . to be Lonely

I have a nasty habit. My habit is that I find too many things to be sorry for. In response to my apologies, friends and acquaintances may say, “it’s no big deal,” my Australian friends may reply: “no worries” and Timon and Pumbaa from the Lion King sing, “Hakuna Matata!” The idea of being sorry, worried or frustrated is ingrained in our North American culture. So when I listened to a song several years ago that said it’s good to have these feelings, I listened hard and often, and its reminder, has become one of my favorites. The song addresses three feelings which we would rather discard rather than face, but to each of these feelings, Wayne Watson says, “it’s good. . . .”
Psalm 23:1 says “GOD, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.” What, we don’t need anything? If we look around, it will not take long for us to desire something and we may find ourselves saying, “I need this,” “I want that.” Last night, I watched “Stranger than Fiction”, a movie about Harold Crick, an IRS agent, who falls in love with a client of his. In an awkward attempt to get closer to his newly found love, Crick bluntly states, “I want you.”
Loneliness is not usually something that we want. Instead, we would go to great lengths to avoid it. Being a shepherd, David, the author of Psalm 23, spent a lot of time alone and knew what it meant to be lonely. But rather than see it as a time of being separate from everyone, David viewed loneliness as a time to be alone, together with his God. Like David, Watson sees loneliness differently. In his first verse, he writes:

It's good to be lonely every now and again
To be parted from the ones you adore
To sit at a table for two all alone
And take a look at the world around you
At people with no one to go home to
Some with a place to belong
Others consumed by their weakness
And another when weak seems so strong

It may be impossible or at least very hard for us to find any reason why it would ever be good to be lonely. But if we spend time in this frame of mind, we may learn that there are indeed good things that can be found in loneliness. David found some of those good things in his Psalm:

You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
Death Valley, I'm not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
Psalm 23:2-5 (The Message)

David doesn’t sound so lonely anymore, does he?

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