My boys love playing Capture the Flag outside at night in the dark. Usually they get sick of talking with the adults sitting by the campfire and decide to play games. They set the line at half the house and run wild between the front and back yards. They rarely get too tired to quit, but eventually the warmth of the fire, the smores and toasted donut holes, and mugs of hot chocolate lure them back!
There is something exciting about running and chasing and catching and finding in the dark; at least when you are a child. Something changes when we become adults. While we do become better at hiding, we don’t like getting caught as much as we used to.
As a Chaplain, one of my favorite things to witness is when patients find and catch each other. I lead a Wellness Group where patients share and identify with seven different types of loneliness1. Without fail, a patient will tell a story about how lonely they are and how the pain of their loneliness was a contributing factor to why they came to us as a patient. Other patients will start to nod their heads, they will share encouragements or identify ways they also feel a similar kind of loneliness. By the end of the group, there is usually an Ah-Ha moment where everyone realizes that in sharing their pain, they started to find community. Someone will wonder, “How do we find this open community outside here?”
It’s an age old question, “How do we open up within our darkness?”
These days, we see and hear so many stories of injustice, cruelty, and pride that the sea of darkness can be overwhelming at times. Yet we are surrounded by each other as islands of light, little warming campfires, with mugs of hot chocolate justice, s’mores of mercy, and the warm welcoming glow of humility.
As we enter another year, let us look for ways to connect with others that lifts them up out of darkness, enlightens their path, and that makes us all a little bit brighter.
1 7 Types of Loneliness, and Why it Matters, Gretchen Rubin, Psychology Today, February 27, 2017
Rev. Dr. Randy Meyers is Board Certified with the Association of Professional Chaplains and serves as a Staff Chaplain at Pine Rest. He currently provides pastoral care support for children and adolescents, as well as patients with Substance Use Disorders. He provides pastoral care support through Pine Rest’s Employee Assistance Program to local businesses.
Chaplain Randy is an avid sourdough bread baker. When he is not sitting around the campfire, he enjoys woodworking and tending his garden of garlic and gladiolas.