“This is a revealing time”
I heard that phrase recently on a podcast that I love, and it perfectly summarized what I’ve been feeling these last few weeks of isolation.
Some of us are experiencing more literal isolation than others; but regardless if you’re still able to leave your house, to work outside the home, or are able to chat with neighbours from a safe distance, this is a time of inwardness and homewardbound that is being felt globally. And that is we shouldn’t resist. That is something to really lean in to.
Putting a positive spin on something that is killing hundreds of thousands of people hits a bit flat, honestly. But recognizing what is happening in light of this pandemic, all the effects of covid19 (for better and for worse), is so important.
On a Sunday day recently, I stopped while walking with my kids to chat with an elderly neighbour as she sat in a lawn chair on her driveway. I’d never stopped to chat with her before, and of course we discussed how long experts are saying the current measures will be in place. She remarked, “I think some things will be permanently different after that.”
I responded, “I hope so.”
We were both referring to the same thing: the way this pandemic has realigned and exposed our priorities. The way it’s caused us all to slow down a bit. The way it’s woken us up to how we say we want to live our lives, and how we actually do live our lives.
It’s hard to enjoy anything that isn’t optional, anything that’s mandatory or forced on you. Remember that seen in Matilda where, during a school assemble, a boy was forced to eat a sheet of brownies in front of the whole school? He really wanted brownies, but being forced to eat them? He couldn’t enjoy them!
That’s how we all are. Normally, we would relish at the idea of being at home for weeks with our pets or partners or kiddos, having unlimited time to watch Netflix and read and do household projects. But having that forced upon us seems to suck most of the joy right out of it. And yet, I want to invite you to lean into these mandatory measures of isolation and slowness, and see the invitation that is at hand.
Lean into the isolation. Lean into the silence. Lean into the realization that we do not control our lives as much as we thought we did. And most importantly, lean into the startling realization that so many things that we fill our time with, are things that we do not need.
It’s a well known fact that humans need each other. Isolation literally kills us, eventually. And there is certainly going to be long term affects to this social distancing (all the extroverts out there, I see you and I feel your pain) that will not all be positive. Thankfully there are ways to stay connected, to stay healthy, and to collectively share this struggle with each other. I’m not suggesting that out of this time will come a realization that we don’t need people. But maybe this is revealing to us which people we need, the ways in which we need them, and how much we really do need them.
Do we really need another follower on social media? Or do we need to call our grandma and talk about her favourite memories of you as a child (again).
Do we really need another book to read? Or do we need to learn to relish silence.
Do we really need another group to join? Or do we need to learn to love the people right in front of us.
Do we really need more? Or do we already have all that we need.
I’m missing a lot of things about my life pre-pandemic that I hope I can return to when this is all over, don’t get me wrong. I want to go to the grocery store, see a friend in the cereal aisle, and hug them. I want to linger at the park with my kids and chat with other moms at the swings.
But what I really don’t want, is to return to “business as usual” and welcome back in all the busyness and noise and distraction that I now realize wasn’t really adding to my life. I want to take this time to recognize what is being revealed right now. What is essential? Who is essential? Where have I been spending my time that I needed to reclaim?
And if all those things come back into my life, will I still make time to chat with my neighbour on a sunny day?
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. So do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13: 9,11
Happy Easter and be well,