BRIGHTON TO SEAFORD
Leaving behind the busyness and bustle of Brighton this morning. I am ready to get back onto the relative quiet and peace of the footpath.
Extract from Reflections Journal – Sunday 20th August 2017
Our walk from Brighton to Seaford was a little longer than expected today. Both locations where we stayed last night, and tonight were a little bit further from where I plotted my route to and so we had about 3 miles more to walk. Having had some difficulty convincing Abigail that 12 miles would be fine today she wasn’t much impressed that it became 15. I did my best to comfort her with the knowledge that the next day would be somewhat shorter – just 5 ½ miles.
Spending a meaningful length of time on my own was one of the objectives of this pilgrimage walk. Having time to be quiet, time to think and time to listen to God has been a real blessing. I’m not sure any of us realise just how much we pack into our normal daily lives and how little time we leave for quiet. For the best part of the last 5 weeks I am enjoyed the peace and quiet that this journey has afforded me. I did wonder whether I might the experience to be somewhat lonely, but in truth I can say that I have felt less lonely journeying alone than I have at times in my normal life at home, surrounded by people.
It is a sad truth that there are many lonely people in our communities today. People who are physically alone and who long for some kind of interaction with other people. There are also many people who are busy, surrounded by other people at home and at work, who are just as lonely. Loneliness is not the same as being alone, although the two things do often go together, and it is the first thing that God identifies in His Word as ‘not good’.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
Genesis 2:18 NIV
Just a few years ago a survey was carried out that measured the interaction and connectedness of people throughout Europe. The UK came 26th out of 28 in the survey with the observation that people in the UK are, ‘less likely to know our neighbours, have strong friendships or know people we can rely on in a crisis’. It is ironic that here we are in the 21st century, with access to all sorts of technology which can aid us in our communications, and yet we are lonelier now than perhaps we have ever been.
It is true perhaps that as human beings we will always have an element of loneliness in our lives as we live distanced from God, our father and our creator. As Christians we recognise that tension of knowing God and knowing that Jesus has brought us back into relationship with him yet knowing that the fulfilment of God’s plan for our lives is still yet to come in the Kingdom, and perhaps this has an impact on the way we think about loneliness in our world. What should our response be to the reality of loneliness? What is the message we want to share with those who don’t know Jesus and are not experiencing a relationship with him?
I think that we need to love people first. Reach out to them and serve them. Develop relationships and community and create opportunities for ourselves and others that will tackle loneliness. We also need to speak the truth to people and explain to them that we will never be totally rid of loneliness until we renew our relationship with God. We can bring hope to people right here and right now, and we can also offer people the hope we know in Jesus.
You don’t have to look far to see the lonely. They may even be sitting next to you on the bus, or across the office from you. They might even be living under the same roof as you. We all need to be more active in making some time for some peace and quiet and reflection, and speaking with God about what he wants us to do for the lonely.