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Alone, Please Visit Me
Alone. What pictures and emotions does this word bring to mind? For many it evokes thoughts of peace and quiet in the midst of a stressful life, a few moments of respite from the busyness that can leave us feeling overwhelmed. For others though, aloneness is an unwelcome, yet persistent companion.

Recently I read a news article about an elderly man in Austria who was found dead in his apartment. It was estimated that he had died three or four years earlier. Only after receiving no response to a notice of a rent increase did his landlord wonder if something might be wrong. His pension was automatically deposited in his bank account each month, his rent deducted. Having been somewhat reclusive, even his neighbors did not notice his absence or stop to wonder why his junk mail was accumulating.

Since reading that article I have been amazed at the number of stories in the news of similar situations. How is it possible, I ask myself, in a world where we can “reach out and touch someone” in so many ways, that people are so very alone. How can a person live and die and not one other person notice or care?

A Quick Hug

I wonder how many people I have passed, brushed shoulders with, waited impatiently behind in the checkout line, are desperately lonely. I think especially of the elderly. How many feel overlooked and unappreciated after a long life of giving for others? How many in nursing homes feel all alone, waiting for the visitors that never come? How many people have gone months or maybe even years without the comfort of human touch? For how many would a quick hug be the highlight of their day or month or even year?

My children feel uncomfortable visiting the elderly in nursing homes. I have to admit that I have dreaded those visits myself at times. The smells, the awkwardness of trying to talk to someone who just sits and stares, the cries of pain and confusion, have made me feel reluctant, but as I’ve thought about that elderly man dying alone and uncared for, it has given me a whole new perspective.  I want to pass on a legacy to my children of genuinely caring for others, of seeing an opportunity to minister to Jesus in the lonely and unnoticed around us.

Father, please open my eyes and heart to those around me that desperately need someone to care enough to make eye contact, to strike up a conversation, to touch them. Especially for those who don’t know you as their Companion, help me to be your eyes connecting with theirs, your arms around them, your ears to listen, even if it is to the same story of yesteryear heard many times before. Give me the words to introduce them to you!
 “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

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By Leslie Olin. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the THE NEW KING JAMES VERSION,® 1982.

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