A friend has emailed increasingly barbed comments. She does not mean to, but it may be her frustration or lack of ability to grasp another way of life. She has commented on how she lived beneath her means so now can have a wonderful retirement. (In actuality, she never had rough circumstances financially and was blessed with ability to work full-time despite physical handicap and, yes, a sad divorce. She has also been blessed with a male friend who left a bequest upon his death, and an inheritance.)
She has mentioned how good is her heat pump where she lives and how inexpensive the man who repairs it. [This hermit was double charged for a heat pump and given an outrageously high hourly repair rate.] She has mentioned it is too bad that this hermit (don't think she grasps the eremitic vocation, from her unchurched background) did not plan anything for Thanksgiving.
With each email or comment, the hermit responds with acceptance and love. For one thing, it is true that the hermit has made many errors in dealing with the world. And it is true that the hermit has not become involved in social activities here, and has accepted the general unfriendliness of neighbors who said upon meeting that they stay to themselves. Have also not attempted more interactions, partly due to physical pain and heaps of hardships, but also due to vocation.
The hermit tells the friend how wise and good has been the friend, and how wonderful her various social outings, sometimes three or four per day. For it is good, for the friend, as that is what she perceives and has known as worthwhile and good. The friend has a group of friends who are active in various entertainments, hikes, and other gatherings. The friend helps others in her group and also does some volunteering. The hermit is blessed with this friend, for she offers another opportunity to truly understand how the friend lives, and what a valid and good life for her. And the hermit understands that the friend does not understand or deem so worthwhile, however, the hermit's own life, and that is all right, too.
What stands out--that all hermits ought to recognize and accept, is that especially in our society, this country, but also in the world-- is that life success seems measured by social involvements, activity, and mobility. Even beyond higher economic status, even in Christian circles, a successful life is deemed by social activity, involvements, and outreach.
For Catholics, there is more an acceptance of those in cloistered religious orders as having good purpose. This hermit recalls a young married Catholic who exclaimed relief that some women in a nearby cloister were praying night and day. She felt if not for them, the world would fall apart. This hermit asked if the young woman herself might not consider praying night and day, and not so much count on the handful in the cloister to do what is the prime responsibility, if not joy, of all of us: to pray unceasingly?
Yet, at least there is a value placed by some, on those whose lives are primarily and known, as that of prayer for souls and prayer for the world. But the majority, even in the vast Body of Christ, in the Western church in particular, hinge Christian success upon visible action and social interaction.
This hermit decided to mention to its secular humanist friend (mentioned first in post), that on this Thanksgiving Day, the hermit had indeed made plans. It was planning to pray today for other people to have memorable and enjoyable, fruitful and meaningful experiences in their social gatherings.
The hermit will pray for the many who are working today. It prays for people traveling, for people ill in hospitals and nursing homes, for people in other countries not celebrating Thanksgiving Day, for those who are yet links in the chains--even if weakening links--whose memory brings some hurt, and once more asking for the gift of forgiveness and letting go of all wounds.
Then, this hermit will also do a little insulating or some form of manual labor in order to pray while working. It will provide some stretching of the painful body; and work will help break any bonds of tedium or acedia afflicting the hermit.
Did not mention the tears that cleanse the hermit and wash some sins far away, forever. But they had not come yet, in this very full day of hidden types of activity that many perhaps have never contemplated as hallmarks of a valuable or successful life. And, a hermit or solitary must have faith and trust in his or her own form of life, and accept it as worthwhile and meaningful, full of quiet love.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another, just as He loves us!