09/14/2014 08:59 EDT | Updated 11/14/2014 05:59 EST

Love Is the Antidote to Loneliness

Shutterstock / Paul Schlemmer

I am walking solo tonight, as the two Youngest have a friend over and Husband is on duty back on the home front. I miss my walking partner on nights like this. Nights when it feels I am the Lonesome Isolated -- walking when the rest of the world is doing more important things, living out more exciting plans than I. When it seems the rest of the world is organizing and doing things and gathering in places and spaces, making plans that I have not been privy to. Having fun being connected and together. All but me, for I walk alone. So tonight, feet slap pavement sounding loudly while hearts are feeling a tad bit blue and rather lonely.

It must be awful to feel lonely day in and day out.

Research shows that chronic loneliness is not just a case of emotionally feeling awful; it can even have a negative influence on our physical health, affecting our brains in ways similar to physical pain. That's why it is important to pay attention to our loneliness. Keeping an eye on our reactions to those moments and times when we find ourselves alone.

Aware of my sensitivity tonight, I reach out and call my friend later in the evening, checking in about an activity our children are both involved in the next day. And after I tell her how happy I am that her daughter Zoe* has taken my own daughter under her wing now that she has arrived a full-fledged member of intermediate school, my friend happens to mention something to me 'off the cuff'. Something I find interesting in light of my feelings tonight. Here's how the conversation went down.

She asks me first if I have heard the name Charissa* come up in conversation when talking with Daughter. No, I say. Oh? Well Charissa has been hanging out with the girls too, she says (proceeding to tell me that Charissa is new to the school this year and that the girls had noticed her alone over lunch time). She continues to tell me that her daughter Zoe* -- the same one that has taken care of my own dear one -- took the initiative to go over to this young adult sitting by herself in the cafeteria and invite her to sit with her and her friends, one of which is Daughter.

My friend mentions the fact that Charissa has a shaved head on one side and a couple different colours of neon framing her head on the other -- not someone easy to mix in a group of unfamiliar faces. Maybe some of the other kids didn't see her as potential. But Zoe* did. And because she did, Charissa isn't lonely anymore.

All it takes is one rock to start an avalanche.

That's all it takes. And in like manner, all it takes is one person to begin a cascade of love. That love and care and compassion and concern -- it's a free fall after that one encounter. Because other people notice and become caught up in the action. It's hard not to when you realize the possibilities. In choosing to love, we lose fear. In choosing care and concern, we lose disinterest. In choosing compassion, we eliminate indifference. By choosing grace we say no to cruelty. What's not to choose?

I feel lonely today. And for certain, we all feel that way sometimes. But it makes my heart sing to know that there are human beings like Zoe out there in the world noticing the faces of people who need love. We all need love, but some of us need an infusion of love in the in-between moments of life even more than others. For me, knowing that there are Zoes in this world makes me want to join the effort, get in on the love cascade. Push past the loneliness. So that love can fall like rain and the lonely can feel they are with their people.

We ALL are their people.

And in thinking about Zoe and Charissa and all the others who feel lonely, isolated and solitary in this crazy, wonderful world -- myself included by times: it helps to know. We are not alone. We never are. Not when Love walks among us. And because we know this, we can then reach out in love to others- turning their isolation into connectedness. Turning their feelings of separation into togetherness.

Creating a love cascade from a single act of kindness.