Is Anybody Out There? Social Distancing and the World's Great Loneliness

Six feet apart.

No groups of more than ten, for safety's sake.

Humankind retreats into the four corners they feel are more a house than a home.

We, the beings with souls, are doing everything we can to protect and heal our bodies.....but our hearts?

They're broke wide open, bleeding.

We'd like to think we're capable of carrying on in a context of isolation, that we are self-dependent, that the world can fall apart around us and we'll be okay.

But the lesson we'll be learning, the holy test we've just been handed has been taken from chapters we haven't bothered reading into as a society.

Connection, and the great void we call loneliness.

This isn't the first time human beings have known so great a separation.

Way back in the beginning, we are told in Genesis 3 of how the first human beings were escorted out of the Garden - ushered out of direct contact with the God they had walked with each day.

That's when they started to die, both body and soul.

For hundreds of years people made animal sacrifices - trying to buy back the relationship they lost when they chose self-dependency over a loving God who fully knows and sees us.  But their hearts weren't the only ones broken.  Their tears for the lost connection were shared by the One they longed for.

"But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the One who formed you says,
'Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are Mine.' "
(Isaiah 43:1)

Christ Himself came to be our ransom, to bridge the gap in the relationship between us and God.  When He went to the cross, in that final hour the words sounded from His throat "EliEli, lema sabachthani?"

Simply put - "My God, why have You abandoned me?"

In order to buy back His Bride - the Son of God had to face the horror of separation from His Father.  But by His action, by His surrender - He proclaimed to the whole wide world what distance He would go in order to get the relationship back.

And yet we wander - as humanity, as the Church, as individuals.

Somehow we think if we stay busy enough, if we fill our lives with enough stuff, book our every day in half an hour increments that maybe the gnawing ache of running away from Love won't catch up with us.

Now we are being forced to slow.  Workplaces, schools and even churches are closing.  Perhaps the world has never felt so utterly alone, so uncertain of when "normality" shall dawn again.

Technology is often labeled as a great evil, especially among older generations of Christians - and even non-Christians.  Yet here we, millions of isolated human beings confined to our communities, yet with a world at our fingertips - thanks to the creative genius given by God to those who created the internet.

The LORD has given us the ability to reach across hundreds and thousands of miles to those we love and care about.  We may not be able to make the trip to stand face to face as we planned in hope so long ago...

But we can stand together from miles apart.  By phone, letter, Skype or messaging apps.  The world can be frightening enough when we have to face it alone.  So instead of cowering in a corner wondering how we shall get by, why don't we make full use of the time given to us?  

In a time where the distractions of everyday life have been overturned, let us strive for connection with God and with each other.  The world is far too lonely when we all pretend we're better off on our own.


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