Loneliness, as defined by mental health professionals, is a gap between the level of connectedness that you want and what you have. It is not the same as social isolation, which is codified in the social sciences as a measure of a person’s contacts. Loneliness is a subjective feeling. People can have a lot of contact and still be lonely, or be perfectly content by themselves.
In small doses, loneliness is like hunger or thirst, a healthy signal that you are missing something and to seek out what you need. But prolonged over time, according to latest researches, loneliness can be damaging not just to mental health, but also to physical health and life expectancy. Loneliness has real consequences to our health and well-being. Being lonely, like other forms of stress, increases the risk of emotional disorders like depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Less obviously, it also puts people at greater risk of physical ailments that seem unrelated, like heart disease, cancer, stroke, hypertension, dementia and premature death.
Even before the pandemic, there was an “epidemic of loneliness”. In a 2018 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in five Americans said they always or often felt lonely or socially isolated. The pandemic only exacerbated these feelings.
For two years you didn’t see friends like you used to. You missed your colleagues from work, even the barista on the way there. You were lonely. We all were. The unknown is the lasting effects of two years of prolonged isolation and the loneliness that came with it.
As pandemic restrictions beginning to cautiously lift, our lives return to some semblance of normalcy. One of the wonderful gifts of belonging to the faith community are communal worship and the fellowship that follows at the coffee hour. If offers a cure for our loneliness and isolation. If you are vaccinated, boosted, and for some double boosted, I enthusiastically invite you to participate on our weekly Sunday services and coffee hour following. In the month of May we have fantastic speakers lined up for our enrichment and edification.
May 1: Holy Communion Preaching: John Song
Message: “The Cure for the Epidemic of Loneliness”
May 8: Mother’s Day Celebration Preaching: Carmelita Abenoja
Carmelita Abenoja claims that she was a Methodist even before she was born. From her home church in the Philippines, she was nurtured and given all opportunities to be involved and participate in church work and get elected to district and conference positions in the UM Youth organization while finishing a degree at the Wesleyan University-Philippines. She taught college briefly but left the academy for the opportunity to travel as a Field Executive for the Girl Scouts of the Philippines. She also worked with an American missionary as the head of the Board of Missions at the United Methodist Headquarters in Manila. While working there she took classes at the Union Theological Seminary hoping to finish a sacred music degree.
Carmelita immigrated to US on April 21, 1979 (43 years ago) with husband and their 4 children. They became members of the Freedom UMC. She wore many hats and volunteered as organist and music director until the Freedom UMC merged with Watsonville First UMC. She retired 6 years ago from a high-pressured job as the Administrative Assistant at the California Highway Patrol.
May 15: Guest Preacher: Haley Feuerbacher
Message: “Not Just Resurrection But Transformation”
Dr. Haley Feuerbacher is a storyteller, creator, adventurer, facilitator, spiritual activist, and theologian. She attended Vanderbilt Divinity School and Brite Divinity School for her Master’s in Theological Studies and completed her Ph.D. at Southern Methodist University in Religion and Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies. A recent transplant to California from Texas, Haley was a faculty member at SMU and The Seattle School for Theology & Psychology and served for several years as a youth minister and then as campus minister for a United Methodist Reconciling college ministry. Passionate about the power of joy and compassion for personal and systemic transformation, Haley is currently the founder and executive director of the Center for Courageous Compassion, which is creating a movement of fierce survivor-centeredness and transformation of trauma in which our helpers, caregivers, activists, leaders, and ministers engage in courageously compassionate work, life, and being that yields sustainable joy and resists systems and patterns that lead to vicarious trauma, burnout, and compassion fatigue. Haley is also a running coach, yoga facilitator, surfing and outdoor enthusiast, partner to SB, mother to son Christian, and author, with her first book, Single (M)Other, available later this year through Wipf & Stock.
May 22: Preaching: John Song
Message: Sacred Activism: “Standing Up for the Defenseless”
Special Music: Turn, Turn, Turn by Brandon and Trisha Kett
This American song Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is a Season) is written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s and first recorded in 1959. The lyric is from the Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew bible written around 300 BC. According to rabbinic tradition, Ecclesiastes was written by the wise King Solomon in his old age. It speaks of the truth of temporality and paradoxes in life.
May 29: Guest Preacher: Peter Coster
Message: “The Sign of Jonah”
Peter H. Coster, PhD, MDiv, LMFT is Relational Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor and the Executive Director for the Center for Psychotherapy, Spirituality and Creativity. He lives is Sonoma with his wife Kate and cat named Aribel.
Yours in Christ,