There has been some talk--on the Internet, Facebook and The Episcopal Church: The Facebook of Common Prayer [see my previous post]--about what the Church has neglected to do for the single person. The unmarried, unpartnered ones, the shut ins, the home bound, the wandering souls that go through life's routines...alone.
What is there for us? I know at my parish there was an attempt at a Stone Soup Supper but for one reason or another it was canceled last fall, or was it winter? It's not like there aren't a lot of us around...we are here, and there, the cities and the towns, from sea to sea, mountain to mountain, plain to plain. We are in large cathedrals and we are in small parish churches. We. Simply. Are.
Many in society think that being single is just the best thing since sliced bread, and don't know why we don't just get married or something. Look at all the advantages that married people supposedly have: longer lives, someone to come home to, tax advantages for their double incomes or the really good single income, ready made dance partners [maybe] and the list goes on. Personally I think its discriminatory to give one group a tax break and not the rest. Why shouldn't single people have the break or something like it? I mean, they are self-supporting, more often than not, so shouldn't we get the break instead of or with the married people who may or may not be getting deductions for children and whatever. I think we should. But here I have wondered into the secular world. Let me take a step back to the Church.
There is a lot of dithering about single groups in churches. Sometimes they lump you into College aged people, or Career-oriented people. And usually but not always, there is the unspoken match.com going on. People don't think of a singles' group as a place to be nurtured spiritually or educationally. No, more often than not people think it's a Christian dating service. Not.
Personally I'd like to see Education for Ministry program or the ability to access EfM for those who wish to take part in and find out what their calling may be or to simply learn more about their faith. It does cost but maybe the church would be willing to help out with some of that for those who could not otherwise afford it.
Book groups are good and their are as diverse in subject and direction as pebbles in a stream. One could go Fiction, or Non-fiction; Theology, Victorian poetry, spiritually focused works, the lives of the saints, mysteries [spiritual and otherwise]. The possibilities are truly endless and varied.
There are always current affairs to discuss in discussion groups for that very purpose. Or we could talk Health Care, or Education, maybe even the possibilities of volunteering in an area of mutual interest.
One of the most important activities I believe single people can engage in is sharing a meal. At a restaurant or mutually prepared, say for Thanksgiving or Christmas, for those with nowhere to go and who would otherwise be sitting in front of TV or window with a microwave turkey dinner. Not feels more comfortable and comforting than to share good food with others who wish for company as much as you do. Holidays are hard on people regardless of station or status. But hearing about the experience of others, they are some of the most depressing times a single person can endure. That's right, enduring the holidays is hard for some, perhaps easier for others but all the same, this alone-ness--especially if it is not welcome--takes a toll mentally, emotionally and physically on the single person.
Single people it is said could benefit from having a companion animal. Well, I agree with that having experienced that first hand. And as great as this would be for those who aren't allergic, it can pose a problem, not just because where they may live but the financial cost of owning and caring for a pet can be prohibitive. And as great as animals are, those who are single, need human companionship and interaction to thrive and be well in body and spirit.
There are, indeed, many other possibilities for gathering single people together under the umbrella of the Church. Half of us haven't met the other half of the single population in our own parish because we attend different services, or we only come on high holy days or just the Wednesday night program or what have you. Gathering us all together in one place, at one time would give us the opportunity to meet every other single person who can attend. Finding out what we have in common--besides being single--and finding common ground. Maybe there is someone who would put on a little financial planning survival seminar for single people only. I would like that especially in this economy.
My mind is swimming with the possibilities of what WE could do if we could meet and talk; think about what we want for ourselves as a group so that maybe twice a month we could count on there being someplace to go to engage our minds and hearts toward God, in one form or another.
Food for thought, definitely. I would like to know your thoughts and invite your comments on this subject. Maybe some of you could share what you do in your church, parish or temple for and with the single man or woman who is looking for more in the "family". I'd love to hear from you.