Alone. What does that word make you think of? Remember the movie “Home Alone,” when a family inadvertently leaves one of their children home while rushing off for a family vacation, and the child is left to fend for himself? That’s a reoccurring nightmare for many parents. In my mind, the world “alone” does not evoke a positive reaction. Alone means you are on your own, or don’t have any close family or friends to care for you. I don’t like the idea of being alone. It makes me feel kind of sad. There are times when, temporarily, it feels good to be alone, but for the most part I want to feel valued by others. In today’s first reading, God decides that Adam needs a companion — one more suitable than all the animals already created. “It is not good for the man to be alone,” God says.Hmm. It is not good for the man to be alone. What does that mean? I think it probably means that we are meant to live in relationships. We are meant to be in community with others. We may live alone. We may like to spend some time alone. But we are not meant to be alone.Mother Teresa of Calcutta started her famous ministry for the dead and dying under the simple premise that no one should die alone. So she and her sisters and volunteers walked the streets of Calcutta to ensure that didn’t happen — just holding people while they passed on.I don’t know about you, but I think another reason it isn’t good to be alone is because it’s good to be accountable to others. We need one another’s help and encouragement to live up to the expectations we set for ourselves. We are called to live lives of love and service. While it’s not impossible to love and serve others in isolation (think prayer), in the end there has to be somebody that you love and serve.Now, we all know that you can have lots of relationships, or even be married, and still be alone. We can disconnect with others even while we share the same home or workplace or school or church. God might create a perfect companion for each of us, but we still have to genuinely engage with that person to experience the full promise of the relationship.Of course, as people of faith we are never absolutely alone. God is with us always, accessible and eager to bless us with his presence. But as far as human life on earth, we are called to live in loving community — to give and to receive, and to challenge and encourage one another to be our best selves.Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected].