How can it be? But it is true.
This time of year, the time meant to be the most joyfully celebrated, can be the most difficult and sad for many. The pain that they feel becomes overwhelming. Suffering and yet often doing their best to hide that sorrow. Often doing the job so well, it goes unseen and unrecognized by even their closest family and friends. Even so deeply hurting, they do not wish to ruin the happiness of others by bothering them with feelings they may not understand.
All of those lights that shine so brightly from trees, homes, trellis built just for the moment, that so many enjoy with eyes bright with wonder, no more than a reminder of the dark within the hurting. The music, that plays everywhere. In the shopping centers, on the radio, sung by friends, a reminder of the silence.
Many of us tend to become so wrapped up in the festivities that our preoccupation prevents us from noticing. It isn’t that we mean to be neglectful, we simply allow our days to become filled to the point of distraction and exhaustion. We see that list of things waiting to be accomplished as if with blinders and miss what is hidden from immediate view.
The children. Those in abusive families. Those in families who are financially struggling. Those who are homeless, who are in foster care, those who are bullied on a moment by moment basis. Those who seek that happiness and peace they see others enjoying. Those who seek a time of stability and assurance that it will be better.
The teens and young adults. The ones between childhood and adult who are trying to find their path. Struggling in a new adventure without a clear roadmap.
The elderly. Those who feel abandoned, whether they are in their own home or an assisted living facility. The ones who crave a visit from family or friend. Who want to spend time no matter how brief in conversation with someone who will listen. Even those whose mental faculties are not what they once were, crave attention. The acknowledgement they are still seen and worthy of a few moments time.
The senior citizens. The ones who are between youth and aged. The ones who may wish to retire but need to work, but work is not easy. Those who want to live as they did while young, but the body refuses. Those who see friends and family who die too young and wonder about their own lifespan. Those who see what is coming, but still look back at what once was. Wondering where they fit and if they fit.
Consider those in occupations who are away from home more than in residence. The truck driver for example. Often away for weeks sometimes months at a stretch. Spending hours alone in their truck, watching life pass by through the windshield. Parking where ever they find space, hoping it is safe. Wishing to be with those they love and miss. Wishing to be able to gather with others instead of always on the road, always solitary.
Those not working, and those over worked. Those who need workers.
A member of the military who spend months away, risking their very life for those they left behind. Seeing things that no one should have to see. Then struggling in the aftermath.
The people who suffer with mental health issues which make the darkness that much darker, that much quieter, that much more dangerous.
Those who have lost a partner, a parent, a child, a close friend. Though the grief may be different, it is also the same. It is the hurting that comes and remains with loss. Whether they were together decades, months or moments, the loss is real. Grief is a monster that shows up at any moment. With a word, a song, an item, a memory. It is a storm and fog that lingers hiding the sunlight from the eyes and preventing peace in the heart.
The ones who seem fine.
Those who are struggling with all that is going on around the world with the virus. The masks, the quarantines, the social distancing, the shut downs, everything that has anything to do with it. The seclusion forced or voluntary has done great mental and emotional harm to many.
Those who feel abandoned in their faith. That their mistakes, their darkness, prevents them from the Light and Love of God.
We’ve seen these lists and obviously this is not the complete list. The causes of sorrow are as many as there are grains of sand on the beach and breath in our bodies. We also need understand what this sorrow is capable of causing. There are those who will struggle with this, battle it on their own seeking resolution. Striving for the ever elusive sunlight. There are those who will seek help, knowing help is needed. There will be those who give in to the pain and attempt and at times accomplish the unthinkable.
My reasons for this are simple, it is a request for each and all to take the time in the midst of what is going on around us, to pay attention. Listen to their words. Watch their actions. Look into their eyes. Pay attention, pay attention, pay attention, really focus on them because often they will try to hide their pain. Thinking it their battle to fight and not wishing to draw anyone else into the struggle. But if you love them, fight for and with them. Do not let them think they are alone. Loneliness is a demon darkness that sucks one in and doesn’t wish to let go. Converse if they wish, sit in silent companionship if not. Hear what they do not say. See what they do not show. They are more important than that unwrapped gift. They are more special than the latest Christmas movie. They are more needed than any decoration. Pay attention and help keep their light shining, for the light of any life is the brightest, most important of all.