Only a couple of weeks before I had been thinking about and praying for a girlfriend who was going through a divorce. She'd moved to a new neighborhood, quit attending church and because of the divorce, no longer connected with the small group she and her husband had been attending. In short, she was pretty isolated as far as a real sense of family and community goes. As I prayed for her, I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me with the question: What about yourself?
I had to stop for a moment and examine this. What about me? Was I, in my careful agenda of honoring my introverted nature, doing so to the exclusion of connecting with other women in ways that would benefit me spiritually? Sure, I co-lead a small group with my husband. Yes, I talk to my sister all the time. And, I am in contact with my gal-pals via Facebook on a regular basis. But was it enough? Was it deep enough, real enough, sincere enough? Was it challenging me, comforting me, feeding me?
I had to admit that because I am often seen in a leadership type role, I might be more inclined to hold back a piece of myself. I may encourage us all to be real, transparent and open and to model it but I know there are some people with whom you don't share it all. That's just common sense. But what I came away with in this little soul searching exercise was that I did need to be intentional about spending time with a few other spiritually mature women in order to keep growing and keep going.
This week, as I have previously mentioned, my husband and I are visiting his brother. C's wife passed away in April after a battle with cancer. This was the first time for us to have an intentional visit and it's been wonderful to have some quality time and of significant quantity. C's life is certainly in a transitional time. He works out of town for a few weeks at a time, then he is off for a few. Being home is when he notices her absence the most and it's been a big adjustment. He's contemplating selling the place and moving but he isn't rushing into any decisions. He is being intentional himself about taking time to grieve, time to think, and making time to keep in contact with family and friends.
His place, as I might also have mentioned, is situated a good several miles from town and his home along with only a smattering of others is perched on the edge of a decommissioned airport. The neighbors all respect each other's privacy but they also watch out for one another. They notice when things are not quite right. This past week one of the neighbors called C to ask about a new guy to their neighborhood. This new resident had only recently bought the property and was in the process of moving in so it wasn't too unusual that no one had seen him for awhile. But then enough time has passed that folks began to question where he was? Have you seen him? It's been a while, do you suppose everything is OK? It was eventually whittled down to the fact it had been several weeks since anyone in the neighborhood had seen him.
Yesterday afternoon a sheriff's car was noted in the yard of the unseen neighbor. And then the sad reality came out. He was found inside his home, deceased. While details are still pending what is known is that eventually a cousin wondered why they hadn't heard from him and eventually contacted the police to ask for a well check when they couldn't reach him on his phone. While the cause of death has yet to been announced, it was generally surmised that he'd been ill.
While the death of someone I don't even know is still sad, what is sadder still is that this man lived what looks to be a life of quiet isolation. C. says he only saw the guy a couple of times and while he was friendly enough it seemed the man was content in his solitude. The fact that his death went undetected and unnoticed for some time (we learned that the coroner estimated he'd been dead a week or more) also speaks to his life of isolation. And while perhaps this is the life he purposely chose for himself, it is still so very sad.
It makes me ask why? Did he choose to be a hermit? Was he depressed? Did he not have close family, other than this cousin who eventually wondered what was going on? Did he have a job? Was he retired? No kids? No close friends who would say 'Hey where's Henry?" What makes a person choose to live a life of solitude?
And, while I am again, content in my own company, it makes me still hope that my life has people in in who would definitely notice if they didn't hear from me for awhile! (and I know that I do) But how sad for those who have no one close, no one who would notice or wonder or worry. They say no man is an island. We all need someone, we all need each other. God designed us to be in community!
As a strong believer in the community of a loving small group, I really grieve for this man though I do not know his name or anything really about him. It makes me want to make sure that everyone has at least ONE person in their life who will notice if something isn't right. And it challenges me to BE that person to the one who has no one else.