Sunday, March 28, 2010

All alone, as it shouldn't be

Tonight, we watched the film The Soloist, the inspiring and disturbing story of the friendship between a mentally ill cellist (Denzel Washington) and a newspaper columnist (Robert Downey, Jr.). The music was beautiful, of course, but these particular lines caught my ear:

"We're all alone."
"Just like it should be."

At this point in the film, the two characters are the sole attendees at a rehearsal of the LA Philharmonic. How many of us have had a similar feeling at a concert, movie, musical, or other public event? The experience would be perfect, if not for all those other people around - the cougher, the early clapper, the talker, the cell phone user, the list of complaints could be endless.

But on further reflection, I thought that the most magical moments in a concert hall are actually times when we transcend the status of individuals and become a group. I hope everyone has experienced sitting in a concert hall in total silence, savoring the final chords of a symphony, or waiting in anticipation for a Beethoven Symphony to crash into existence.

We should not be all alone, and the modern world too often allows us to nest in our homes, thereby avoiding those group experiences. The church should be part of restoring community to our neighborhoods. Those same thoughts were with me as I read about the potential, perhaps likely, destruction of a Brooklyn, New York church. (The NYTimes article at this link has some beautiful pictures.) Of course, the Cleveland area has churches of its own in disuse and disrepair. Is it partly a reflection of our great desire to be alone, rather than come together in community?

This week, Holy Week, I will spend many hours in the church, and among my prayers will be the hope that the church (meaning the universal church) will reinvigorate its role in outreach and community. Indeed, all alone is not how we should be in such a setting.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps even sadder than being alone is substituting virtual relationships for real ones? The TV is the prime example of this, but also the internet can play this role. When I see all the angry speech in the political arena, I have to wonder ifit isn't just because people don't really know the people they are angry with.