“THEN THE LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’,” (Genesis 2:18).
Many of you may remember the Simon and Garfunkel song, “I am a rock.”
Some of the lyrics go like this, “I am a rock, I am an island. I’ve built walls. A fortress, steep and mighty that none may penetrate. I have no need of friendship. Friendship causes pain, its laughter and its loving I disdain.”
Simon goes on to write about how his feelings of love have died, that his books and poetry protect him, and that hiding in his room alone has become a safe womb where no one can touch him.
I tell you what, it is the kind of song that is a true day-brightener.
I cannot help but think how these last months of quarantine have illuminated just how wrong these lyrics are concerning the human spirit.
We may wish sometimes that we are numb to the effects of hurt, loss and insult.
However, we are designed for community.
We may build walls around us, hide from others, even describe ourselves as an island, yet the problem is found in the reality that the island we have made our lives into is Alcatraz, a prison where we long for true relationship.
I always read this passage above from the book of Genesis with a chuckle.
Up to this point in the story of creation everything was good, according to God’s perfect standards.
All of it was perfect, the light, the sea, mountains, plants, animals — you name it.
But when he gets to man … one look and it’s obvious, he’s not good at being alone. I wonder what gave it away?
Whatever it was, I am sure as you sit in your home separated from even your next door neighbor, your extended family and your friends, you could come up with a list of what would give it away for you.
Is it your sense of irritability that points to how you long for relationship? Perhaps your sinking feelings of loneliness, your anxiety, the guilt you feel as you are left to your own thoughts or perhaps the boredom and silence this forced separation has filled your house with?
It is startling how in just a few months what you thought was a place of solace, like your home, can feel at times like a prison.
Who would have thought that going to the grocery store would ever sound like a great break from the monotony of our new routines?
God knew from the onset that it was not good for man to be alone, so He made a community by which a person can encourage, sustain, support and demonstrate the depths of love to one another.
A lot has changed since that first day where the voice of God declared isolation “not good.” But the purpose of relationship and community, and the detrimental effects of solitude are as obvious now as they were then. No song, poem or convincing self-talk will ever change that reality.
Yes, God has always known that we are relational creatures and He is a relational creator — from walking with Adam in the garden, to speaking out to Abraham, wrestling with Jacob, leading the Israelites by a cloud of smoke, giving Isaiah a personal tour of His throne room, right up to taking on flesh and dwelling among us.
It is not that mankind was not good to be alone from other humans, mankind was never created to be separated from its creator.
A real personal relationship with God is one that our Lord himself wants for all.
So much so that He says as he is walking on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die (Matthew 24:26).
It was necessary because of what our God was determined to accomplish; to reconcile Himself to you (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
For you to know that He would never forget you (Isaiah 49:15), that there will never be a place you find yourself that He is not by your side (Psalm 139:7-9, Matthew 28:20), and that He has sought you out and chosen you (John 15:16; Ephesians 1).
Even more He has brought you into relationship with others and has called us into a relationship with one another that is to be experienced by sacrificial love marked with respect, trust, honor, kindness and patience. We are a community, not by choice but by design.
There is no doubt that these last months have been difficult for many and the weeks ahead will prove to be just as trying.
However, even if you feel like an island know that you are not. You are in the thoughts and prayers of so many.
Pick up the phone, call your children and grandchildren so they can remind you how you are loved.
Write a letter, an email, even a text message to those you might think are being closed in by the walls of their home and remind them they are not forgotten; not by God and not by you.
Regardless of how far apart we are, 6 feet or 600 miles, there is a silver cord that unites us all.
It is the Spirit of God living in us, that yokes us to the one faith, one church, one body of Christ.
Rejoice with me even in these circumstances that we are not a rock or an island where no one can touch us, but well taken care of by the one who has always held us in His hands, God Himself.
To Him be all the glory.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Lovejoy is pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected]