Eleanor Rigby: All The Lonely People

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the
rice in the church where a
wedding has been
Lives in a dream, waits at the
window, wearing the face that
she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
where do they all belong?
~Lennon/McCartney~

The Human Condition

Hanging out with friends and neighbors is a blast. There’s smiles and laughter as stories are told and we catch up with happenings in each other’s lives.

Community gatherings celebrating this or that are great opportunities to break the routine of the daily grind—a good reason to get off the treadmill of our schedules to reconnect and make memories.

The chattering crowds give the appearance of relational health, but consider this: In the midst of all the hustle and bustle are lonely people who have a happy face on the outside but inwardly battle a private anguish. Loneliness likely conjures up pictures of ragged folks loitering on street-corners and park benches, but those caricature images are wrong. Loneliness is not something reserved only for those who have slipped through the cracks of respectability—loneliness is familiar and customary to us all.

The refrain of Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles continues to be haunting in its simple eloquence: “All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”

No one is immune from a gut-level sense of detachment that hurts like the hunger of an empty belly that won’t be satisfied. We have all stared at the concrete crypt of a cloudy sky and prayed for meaningful relationships. At one point or another, we all deal with the sneaky feelings of aloneness that are threatening and frustrating all at the same time.

The glut of personal ads, the popularity of chat-rooms, and the widespread use of phone services and social media may all be modern-day phenomena, but are truly indicative of the age-old dilemma of our longing for closeness and intimacy.

The songs, films, and sitcoms of popular culture only echo what the great poets, playwrights, and artists of the past described in ways that force us to crawl up inside their pain-filled angst. Loneliness is the human condition. A yearning for a sense of connectedness with other human beings is as universal as rainy days.

Father McKenzie, writing the
words of a sermon that no one
will hear, no one comes near
Look at him working, darning
his socks in the night when
there's nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people?
where do they all come from?
All the lonely people?
where do they all belong?
~Lennon/McCartney~

Alienation & Heartaches

In affluent North America, our veneration of individuality and independence hammers wedges between us. We divide into tribal units or insulate ourselves from others, but the inbred desire for companionship is far stronger than all the political, sociological, or technological divisions.

Most of us probably go through our days interacting in a superficial manner that is void of significance. We pitter-patter along muttering nice banalities to keep up with the pretensions of society, but realize we are desperate for tighter connections. Our surface associations serve to make us aware of our inner compulsion for more meaningful relationships.

Our world offers shallow substitutes that many chase after only to become trapped in a quagmire filled with spongy emptiness. In our eager but misguided attempts to bond with others we get stuck in cycles involving drugs, alcohol, gambling, violence, prostitution, or pornography. The buy now pay later attitude promoted by the merchants of endless pleasure provides us with a plethora of choices.

Who among us has not stepped through the wrong turnstiles to be engulfed in alienation and heartaches? Perhaps we are all closer to the reality of dead-end lifestyles than any of us care to acknowledge.

To one degree or another we have all been wounded—we are all damaged. Our psyches are complex. There remains a certain amount of mystery hidden in the peaks and valleys of humanity’s emotional landscape, but we can never escape the fact that we need each other.

We humans have an essential compulsion to connect with others. It is in our genetic makeup and our design specifications. Our Creator even set into motion the provision and outlet for the way he wired us. We are to be plugged into church.

However, we have the endless capacity to debase everything we touch—we drag the noblest idealism down into gutters of innate selfishness. Far too often the buildings where Christians gather become nothing more than bastions of holier-than-thou smugness—collections of self-righteous saints who’ve forgotten the basics of our common frailties and humanity.

When that occurs, the holy huddle is closed off to those on the outside looking in. Then inevitably, the sanctimonious piety becomes toxic as the superior attitude is enhanced by putting others down—either blatantly or subconsciously we develop the mindset of the religious leader in a story Jesus told: The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

Note the viewpoint: The Pharisee stood up and prayed about HIMSELF. His narcissism hadn’t materialized overnight, but rather, became solidified over the course of time. The accumulated weight of his egocentric choices had reduced the entire universe to the circle of me.

That is an ever-present and dangerous temptation for each of us. We need to constantly guard against self-absorption by cultivating an others-centered approach until it becomes our automatic mode of operation. It is when increasing numbers of Christ-followers do this that the supernatural project Jesus of Nazareth initiated actually demonstrates vibrancy and vitality.

How are we doing living out God's ideal plan?

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Acceptance & Love

As mystical as it sounds, church is the body of Christ on earth. It should be a diverse group of hurt and broken individuals who have found Jesus to be the answer to the question of life.

Let’s be clear: When Jesus proclaimed that he would build his church, he was not dreaming about a structure, an organization, a social club, an institution, or a political special interest lobby.

What was actually envisioned was a messy hodgepodge of imperfect people seeking to experience God’s love in community—flawed people blanketed in lonesome isolation who actively reject the plastic façade to reach for authenticity and integrity in relationships—distressed people who smother loneliness in an atmosphere of hope where grace is doled out in wildly extravagant doses.

Where do all the lonely people come from? Everywhere and anywhere—more often than not, lost and forlorn folks are hiding in plain sight within the nooks and crannies manufactured by a society obsessed with success and self.

Where do all the lonely people belong? By God’s purpose and degree, everyone ought to be in a healthy cell of the body of Christ—a place of safety and security, where we are all free to work out the dynamics of our relationship with God and with each other in the context of acceptance and love.

How are we doing living out God’s ideal plan?

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Comments 24 comments

D&ML 4 years ago

As I head off to church shortly, I must remember your message and attempt to make one person's loneliness less.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

D&ML - Thanks for stopping in & reading. Blessings.


KT Banks profile image

KT Banks 4 years ago from Texas

Wow. Voted everything except funny. Very profound.


Motown2Chitown 4 years ago

Wow, Ken. Thank you for this. Voted up and shared. :)


jo miller profile image

jo miller 4 years ago from Tennessee

This is really wonderful, Ken. I always enjoy your writing, but this is one of the best--so beautiful and meaningful. It is what keeps me in church.

I especially like this phrase, "We have all stared at the concrete crypt of a cloudy sky and prayed for meaningful relationships." I'm going to share this with my husband now and with others online. I hope many people read it.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

KT Banks - Thank you for all the good thumbs up votes. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Motown2Chitown - You're welcome. Thank you for the up vote & sharing it. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

jo miller - Thank you so much. You are far too kind in your encouragement, though it's much appreciated. Blessings.


RezDuane 4 years ago

The "Holy Huddle." well said . . .


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, RezDuane.


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Nicely written and deep in meaning! And you are right most people live in their little bubble not caring for others. It's to each of us to make a difference in this world. Voted up


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

kidscrafts - Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Much appreciated. Blessings.


sheilanewton profile image

sheilanewton 4 years ago from North Shields, UK

A wonderfully-penned view of lonliness. I like the way you used the Beatles song, 'Eleanor Rigby'to amplify the problems we all face from time to time.

Voted up - this is a piece of magic. Kudos to you, sir.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

sheilanewton - Thank you. You are very kind.


slackermom profile image

slackermom 4 years ago from Attapulgus GA

wonderful hub voted up


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

slackermom - Thank you.


EyesStraightAhead profile image

EyesStraightAhead 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

This is wonderful. I am on a journey in which my life's goal is to bring happiness into others' lives...whether by a smile, a joke, a hug, a shoulder to lean on...I just want others to know they are not alone in this world. I love your reminder, "In the midst of all the hustle and bustle are lonely people who have a happy face on the outside but inwardly battle a private anguish." So many people are great at blending in with the crowd and appearing fulfilled when in reality they are alone amidst many. Great piece, Ken. Once again, you have inspired me.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

EyesStraightAhead - Thank you for your kind words. Glad you stopped in & enjoyed this piece. Blessings.


CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 4 years ago

You have an amazing gift and write with depth and soul! I sometimes think, when I have left - oh she or he is lonely, I should have woken up to the fact earlier and spent more time with them. The beautiful hub serves to keep me mindful. Thank you Voted up and beautiful!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

CyberShelley - Thank you so much. You are very kind. Blessings & encouragement to you.


watergeek profile image

watergeek 4 years ago

This is well, well written Ken. You have a great, descriptive way with words. I would like to point out, however, that church doesn't just include Christians. The attitudes and angst you describe affects all people, and the solutions also rest with all people.

I know people who are not Christian who are warm and real. I know a pack of musicians who your description of self righteousness fits perfectly. They are Catholic, Baptist, Unitarian, and I don't know what else.

The Buddha gave many of the same teachings that Jesus did, and so have other spiritual leaders. And none of this belittles anything you said. Christian or no, we're all in this life together, facing the same battles and lessons, and finding our own solutions that we can experiment with and share.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

watergeek - Thank you for sharing. You are right. It is the human condition. Blessings.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 3 years ago from Philippines

I was quite young when I first heard the song Eleanor Rigby. I always visualized a real head in a jar by the door, and a headless woman who lived inside her house. I think you write very well, and I can identify with many points you made. This piece was interesting from start to finish, and many jewels of authenticity could be found here and there. Thank you for this article.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 3 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

You're welcome, grand old lady. Thank you for reading & sharing. here.

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