Loneliness. It is an increasing problem in the United States which can produce health repercussions, according to John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist at the University of Chicago. Cacioppo reported to the American Psychological Association that almost a quarter of the people in a recent study frequently feel lonely. He attributed this to longer life-spans and more years in widowhood, also to the fact that more people live singly today.
He said that this can harm our health and well-being. Some effects of loneliness are sleep dysfunction and higher blood pressure. He also found that loneliness can be contagious, although that research has not as yet been published. He said that studies of college freshmen show that they are particularly lonely during their first quarter of classes, even if surrounded by people. It’s the quality of relationships, not quantity, that matters Cacioppo stressed.
How are our relationships? How good a friend are we? We are all capable of helping others feel less lonely. A smile, a kind greeting, a welcoming embrace - all of these can reach others in a way that decreases loneliness. We all yearn for a “wind beneath our wings” to paraphrase a Bette Midler classic. Throughout life, everyone hopes they will have someone’s support and encouragement, especially during trying times.
But we can’t be with friends always. There are times of aloneness for all of us. How are we able to feel less lonely when alone? It has been my experience that God’s great love for man is the wind beneath the wings of each of us. St John once wrote, “God is love”. This Love is everywhere. We can never be out of its presence. This divine Love is not just in the sky or “up there” somewhere, but right with us, right now. None of us are actually alone - God’s vast love is embracing us right now. This Love satisfies, comforts, encourages, and guides. It is actually the motivating force for good in our lives.
This love can be felt. It can melt away the icy coldness of grief, and cool down the heated tensions of pressure and frustration. We need to open our hearts to this Love, but it is here. It is powerful. It can give us the strength to carry on, or to finish chores and assignments that seem overwhelming.
Your loneliness can disappear, because you have divine winds beneath your wings!