we must be lonely side by side
it's a perfect way to hide
it's a perfect way to hide
- Spamalot -
Although Spamalot was nothing more than a couple hours of fun with no depth attached, there was one moment that caught me off guard and stuck with me through the last portion of the show. As King Arthur is bemoaning the current state of his life, he sings a song called "I'm All Alone" (even though he's not). Toward the end of the song, he sings the above line...and for a moment my mind went crazy. How true is that of where we really are in life these days?
I know I've talked about this before, but the isolation of modern society never ceases to amaze me. Never in history has it been so easy for people to connect to each other - the internet, blogs, cell phones, email - and yet I truly feel that people are more alone now than they have ever been. We use the impersonal mediums of our time to stay at arm's length from each other, then claim that we have all these friendships.
What is even sadder to me is that I see this in the church more and more. Every sunday 2,000 people come to worship services at my church. Many of them come alone. And they sit alone. they worship alone. they leave alone. And we let them. there are so many people we assume everyone must have someone, but that's not the case. And I hurt for those people, because it wasn't all that long ago in my life that I was one of them. I attended my church for years by myself, sitting on the aisle, living in the fringes of faith, and feeling all alone with people all around me. And, there are still some times when i still feel that isolation, that not knowing where I fit and how to make my way into new friendships and groups. I think in so many ways what the song above says is true. It's so easy to hide your hurt and loneliness when you're with people. Again, take church - it's so easy to hide in the crowd of 2,000 other 'lonely' people. And, sadly, it's way too easy to be lonely in a crowd. It's easy to be lonely in the middle of people. We create isolation by not pursuing authentic relationships. We create isolation by not seeing beyond ourselves and into the world. We create our own lonely places to hide where we are most visible.
The challenge of faith, and, ultimately, the challenge of the church, is to break down those walls of isolation that people create. It's a hard challenge, because it's hard to change the cultural norms of society and make it easy for people to be open in an isolating age. So, how do we make the shift? I'm honestly not sure. I don't know how the church can effectively reach out to the people that are being all alone together in the same building every Sunday. but, i do know that it starts with me being more open. it starts with the people i know that feel the same cultural shift happening under the name of 'church' reaching out and changing who they are so they can more accurately reflect who Jesus is - the end of the self-imposed isolation we've all created for ourselves.