"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."
~ Isaiah 64: 8
In his book, "Making All Things New," Henri Nouwen shares, “Our urge to be set free from this isolation can become so strong that it bursts forth in violence. Then our need for an intimate relationship—for a friend, a lover, or an appreciative community—turns into a desperate grabbing for anyone who offers some immediate satisfaction, some release of tension, or some temporary feeling of at-oneness. Then our need for each other degenerates into a dangerous aggression that causes much harm and only intensifies our feelings of loneliness.”
I don't know about you, but I've seen some interesting ways that people have begun "bursting forth," in order to escape the isolation that many of us have entered over the past month. Some of which has been nothing but disappointment and pain about how society seems to care for one another without any regard for safety.
I get it. A common punishment for me growing up was being grounded to my room. As someone who liked to write and draw, these "punishments," were a welcomed opportunity to do the things I loved to do. It wasn't that I was a bad child, who decided to make poor choices that deserved punishment. Having had a mother that is an alcoholic, and a stepfather that was far from being a positive role model, in many ways, the time I spent in isolation provided me with the space that I needed. In many ways, the punishment was a form of grace for what I might have witnessed if I had been present with the rest of my family.
In many ways being "cut off," from daily things, made me more prepared to be present for other things.
Something we should all understand at this point is that our isolation is actually providing support for a nurturing community. We are distancing ourselves to remain healthy. Someone recently shared with me, "We isolate now so that when we gather again, no one is missing."
The paralyzing sense of separation at this point is what we all are struggling with. I miss time with my friends, laughing over dinner and drinks, the ability to go somewhere without a mask. I am tired of news reports that exploit the antics of some, while there is a greater number of people who are working hard to make sure that people get the care they need through heroic measures.
One thing that this time in isolation and distancing has taught many of us is that we were all way too busy!
We have to say that the only thing we remember of our recent past is that we were very busy, that everything seemed very urgent, and that we could hardly get it all done. What we were doing we have forgotten. The past no longer carries us to the future; without the promise that things will ever "be the same again."
The thing to remember at this point is that God remains faithful. In our "coming and going," and how we enter our time, not isolated, but in being prepared to enter a world that has changed.
It will be okay. Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.