In the last episode I described a sad tale of being turned down by four different parking lots in an effort to park my bus in downtown Indianapolis for a women’s event. I haven’t received that many rejections since that night in college when I tried to get a date at Ouachita Baptist University. Can you believe it? Seventeen females chose to spend their Friday night alone rather than go out with me. Another sad tale.  I have Kleenex here in the office if you need it.  There was no “Caller ID” back then but evidently every girl on my list had something called “Doofus Calling.” By the time I got to the 17th name on my list all I got out of my mouth when I called the dorm was “Hey, this is Mar . . .” and they hung up. Well, enough of the long-repressed and never completely gotten over memories of my college dating life. Back to my weekend saga.

After the parking fiasco I left the hotel and found a place about 20 minutes from downtown, checked in and had a great night’s sleep. No parking problem. The entire staff was nice and helpful.  Even the bedbugs were polite and professional, saying “excuse me” whenever they rolled over. For breakfast I walked to the adjacent Waffle House and sat at the counter next to a large man, wearing  a small tank top and numerous  tattoos, who sounded like he was either fighting a losing battle with acid reflux or there was a walrus trying to escape from his stomach.

Having survived my breakfast companion I headed for Walmart (what church trip is complete without a Walmart run?) but took a detour and stopped at a garage sale. I didn’t buy anything but it was worth it just seeing the expressions on the faces of the serious and yet perplexed shoppers when they saw the bus park in front.  I eventually made it to Walmart and then back to my room for an afternoon of reading and writing. Who says the life of a Minister of Education is not exciting?

All in all I had a great time. At the end of my Facebook post I said (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) that I didn’t need Women of Joy. I was a Man of Solitude. Then I thought about it and closed by saying “Uh, on second thought . . . I do miss the laughter.” Later I wondered how many people we see every day who are truly lonely and are missing the laughter.  

Billy Joel wrote a song called Piano Man.  One of the verses says, “And the waitress is practicing politics as the businessmen slowly get stoned. Yes they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness but it’s better than drinking alone.” How many people do you know like that?

The answer to loneliness is not in a bar, it’s in a book. In Luke’s story of The Sermon on the Plain he says this in  6:21, “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”  This is not laughter as in laughing at a funny joke. This is laughter as in the spiritual joy that comes from Jesus.

Most of us need time now and then to be by ourselves but none of us needs to be lonely. We are having Friend Day on September 9. Make a friend.  Invite him to church. Let him hear about Jesus, the One who brings joy to the jaded, love to the least, freshness to the frazzled, and fun to the forlorn. And maybe one less  person will miss the laughter.

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