Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Loneliness during the "most wonderful time of the year"

Today I went to Act Up, the community group that leans toward interesting reading aloud. After we finished, I stopped by the Fifth Season (clothing for women and home decorating) to see if there is anything I could wear to Christmas Eve/New Year’s Eve parties. I know I will go to three Christmas Eve gatherings; who knows about New Year’s Eve, there is still time and one wants to be prepared just in case ...

I struck out at Fifth Season, though I do try to shop locally prior to trekking to the malls. I need to qualify “struck out” a bit. I did not find anything to wear. But I did eves-drop on a conversation between one woman (Denise) and the store manager (Susan). Their conversation gave me a different gift to take away this Christmas season.

Denise is living in Wellsboro while her husband works for one of the many gas companies. They are from Austin, Texas - a place of sun, music, life outside and many goings-on. Wellsboro, while having many things to offer, is in a different league. Denise and others are feeling the isolation one feels when living out of one’s element.

As I said, I was eves-dropping while standing in a line without something to purchase. I read recently that any line is an excuse to tell my story. As I listened to Denise’s story, wishing I had a way to break in, I ignored the obvious: just joining the conversation. Once I left the store, got into my Beetle and started to drive out of the parking lot, I determined that I could be rude and join their talk, so I then circled around and parked again.

Denise was still in line at the store (wrapping takes time) so I joined the conversation. A few questions by me garnered the following information: Denise and her husband lived in Mexico, where culture was varied and quite interesting. They lived in Ireland and other European countries, experiencing cultures some of us only read about. Comparatively speaking, Wellsboro is a bit keyed down. Consequently, Denise is lonely. I asked what things she would interest her. Response: exercise, cooking lessons, volunteer work. YEA! For me, these are things that are do-able.

As an immediate option for the loneliness, I asked what she and her husband were doing for Christmas (“Nothing”) so I gave Denise my telephone number and told her that I was offering Christmas dinner to anyone from the community who called. If they wanted to come, give me a call. I hope she calls.

Even if Denise does not call, Soul Link can find ways to help address the loneliness she and others find in this beautiful mountain community four-hours from everywhere. I have been aware that the changes that accompany the gas companies bring opportunities for our faith community to begin a second outreach. Our Fourth Sunday Supper, at 18 months old, is settled in and the congregation is able to add one community outreach. I have ideas of what we could do, but nothing is crying out to be noticed. IDEAS: any six-week class on any topic of interest led by a congregation member or a community member. Yoga comes to mind, as does a weekly gathering of couples cooking and tasting food from other cultures or heritages.

What else? If any of you reading this blog have ideas to offer, ideas whether tried or not, let me know. Perhaps we can incorporate them into this outreach effort.

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