This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, October 18, 2019
I hope this letter finds you fully recovered from turkey and pumpkin pie, and feeling truly thankful. The food, family and frolicking with my near and dear were good for my soul, and I hope likewise for you, too.
This past Sunday, a congregant shared a devotional with me, which was meaningful to her. It was about “horizontal relationships”. Our relationship with God can be considered a “vertical relationship”, where we pray and grow in our faith individually with God. Author Daphne Delay went on to suggest that we especially benefit from “horizontal relationships”, where we grow as a collective, the faith journey a shared one. The article cited troubling, staggering statistics that indicate in our increasingly social world, too few have what they would call authentic, meaningful relationships.
On Tuesday, I sat around the table with a small group at long-term care home to lead weekly Bible study. This group has been meeting for just over a month, but have formed a remarkable connection in a short time. In a place where many are lonely and reminders of the fragility of human life abound, they share with remarkable openness, courage and vulnerability.
On Wednesday, a group of faithful congregants gathered at the church for “Wednesday at 1”, a small group who studies the scripture text for the upcoming week. With diverse perspectives and unique life experiences, everyone comes away with a deeper understanding of the text, and one another. The discussions are personal, enriching and truly a surprise – Heather and I never know where the conversation may go. I am grateful for this group and all that they share.
On Thursday, a colleague shared with me a story about a supermarket in the Netherlands who has begun to offer a “Chat Checkout”. Guests to the supermarket can choose the usual expedient checkout option, or if they would prefer a friendly chat, they can opt to use the marked “Chat Checkout”, offering a friendly smile, slower pace and conversation.
Just this morning, I came across a fascinating piece in The Atlantic about loneliness, and it has occurred to me that there is a recurring theme weaving throughout my week. In this piece written by Judith Schulevitz entitled “Why You Don’t See Your Friends Anymore”, she speaks of an epidemic of loneliness. Its origins, she suggests, are often economic. Around a century ago, in 1929, Joseph Stalin removed weekends, making a calendar week in the Soviet Union five days. Saturday and Sunday were abolished. He divided people into five groups, and so at any given moment, four- fifths of the population was working, while one-fifth had their day off. This continuous workweek, while serving economic ends, meant the breakdown of social and family bonds, as people would almost never have the same day off as their family and friends. After a ten year experiment, the seven day calendar was finally restored in 1940. Schulevitz points out that while less extreme, our society today is often still shaped by what is economical, not often by what is healthy. People are often working long or variable hours. As a result, in a world of “social” media, loneliness and isolation are ironically a hidden epidemic.
I share this with you as an affirmation. One of the gifts of church is that we have an extended family of sorts, whose lives intersect with ours, whose stories we carry with us. No matter how we differ, we are held together, connected by a present, caring God. We are not alone on the journey. You are not alone in the journey. If you feel alone, please reach out. If your relationships are lacking depth, consider going deeper or joining a group such as Wednesday at 1. We always have an open chair.
Looking forward to connecting both horizontally and vertically, on Sunday!
– Kassandra Matthews