Pathways through Lent

Loneliness and Community

Psalm 116:1, 10–17 Exodus 12:1–14 1 Corinthians 11:23–26 John 13:1–17, 31b–35

Loneliness may be the hardest human emotion, and nothing is worse than feeling alone when surrounded by friends.

Washington, D.C., can be a lonely city. There is no shortage of things to do or people to do them with, but here where the line between personal and professional relationships is blurred, where every gathering can become a networking event, it is hard to maintain authentic friendships.

Tonight, we perform the strange and wonderful rituals of foot washing and stripping the altar. We remember Jesus at the Last Supper, surrounded by friends, lovingly washing their feet but deeply alone. We keep the watch as Jesus approaches his loneliest hour. And in doing this we are reminded that Jesus goes before us and beside us in our loneliness.

This Lent, we can fight the temptation to be alone together. In this city, we don’t often share our struggles and joys with others—even in church— because the pressure to appear put together is so great.

Let us consider the idea that we are called to allow people into the messy parts of our lives and that in doing so we can find reprieve from our isolation and also serve as a source of strength for others.

Also let us consider that, when someone is in need, we may not be called to solve their problems but rather to simply be present, to be a companion, to hold a hand, to stay awake, and to just show up and trust that grace will work through us.

–Robin M. Rotman

Photo: The Upper Room | Jerusalem
Photo: The Upper Room | Jerusalem
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