Humans cannot thrive in isolation. Endure, yes. But not thrive.
These days, time crawls. Like a babe learning to carry the weight of its body on its hands and knees–rocking, swaying, hesitating–time stutters, finding its bearings in this anomaly of life amidst a pandemic.
At first, the isolation was distant, a story from lands across seas, and so, too, was the fear. I didn’t worry about my health, or my schedule, or whether or not to fill our cupboards with a few more essentials. My life, in that moment, was no different, aside from the awareness that something terrible was befalling so many across the world. But that’s where it was, across the world. Distant.
It happened slowly and then all at once. One case, then another, until everything we saw and heard, touched and breathed, instilled fear, panic. It was no longer distant; it was right here. It was our homes, our neighbourhoods, our churches, places of work, and schools. It was everywhere–suffocating, sneering, taunting. It was amongst us, like dense fog on a somber autumn day.
For days I raged. Isolation carried anger in its stride. It had robbed me of connection, of freedom, of rights. It had brought chaos, unknown, and confined spaces. I was trapped and desperate for life to resume at its usual pace, its familiar routines. My world had been interrupted, and I was not grateful for the intrusion.
Eventually, slowly–for that is the only pace time knows in such times–my heart softened, and I allowed God to show me the blessings despite these circumstances. I prayed I would not only find silver-linings, but gold, as well. And there, with my arms held open in surrender, I found my answer.
Stillness. The world has been enveloped in stillness, quiet, rest. I see that now: in my own life, in my home, in my mind. Despite the chaos we are still navigating here and around the world at large, there is stillness, quiet, rest.
My usually anxious heart is at peace. Without engagements to attend, appointments to schedule, and outings to prepare for; without commutes to and from work; without having to rush out of the house for school or meetings, we have been gifted time.
Most surprising of all is the realization that isolation hasn’t robbed me of connection after all. Quite the contrary. I have shared my life with more friends over phone or video chats in recent weeks than in past years combined. On a brisk spring walk, I have encountered so many new friendly faces than I ever have before. This isolation has forced intentionality with relationships that are important to me.
How unfortunate that it has been named social distancing, when in reality it is merely physical distancing that we need focus on. There is no reason, and no need to distance our hearts and souls from each other.
Isolation may feel lonely at times, but you are not alone. We are all in this together, doing our best to accommodate the challenges that arise. Now, especially, is a time to extend grace to ourselves and those around us.