For Saint Mark's member Amanda, the experience of social isolation and distance is not a new one. She recently posted this thoughtful reflection on the Saint Mark's Community Closed Facebook Group, and it is being reposted here for the benefit of community members who do not use Facebook. Please leave a comment below if you are so moved.
Hi church. I’m Amanda, my family started attending St. Mark’s this past summer. I’m stepping out in a moment of vulnerability to share my story a bit.
This social distancing, self-isolation, lots of handwashing, nervous “am I going to get sick” scenario the nation finds itself in is essentially how I lived for almost two years. I was dealing with significant health issues and isolation was my best option to be well.
For about two years I went almost nowhere indoors. I had next to no physical contact with anyone except my immediate family. When I did go somewhere I often ended up sick. I scrupulously washed after any contact with people. My hubby and son (who most of you know as the smiling 9-year-old in a bow tie) had to go through an involved process to clean up whenever they came home from somewhere. It was this past spring, almost a year ago, that my healthcare team decided I could start doing more.
I know how hard this is. I know how scary, frustrating, confusing, and lonely it is. In some ways, I am grateful people are going to *get* it now. A lot of people live like this every day. If you want to talk to someone who gets it, please reach out. If you’re lonely or scared, please reach out. (I’d also like to mention I’ve worked from home for years now and I am a homeschool consultant. I have lots of easy to implement resources and systems for those who are suddenly working from home and/or homeschooling).
Watching the service reminded me this time I’m not alone. That empty sanctuary and the distance between everyone present felt so strange, didn’t it? Yet it reminded me we’re all in this together. And God is in the midst of us giving us comfort. We’re gathering to worship and connecting as we can. It was holy and heartbreaking. Beautiful and sad. Lonely and united.
I encourage you to be incredibly intentional about cultivating community in any way you can. Reach out to multiple people a day. We live in an era where it is easier than ever to communicate. Keep communicating. Especially make sure to reach out to those with chronic illness, the elderly, those who are already feeling the financial pinch, those in your life with depression and anxiety, and those who care for people in these categories. And send real mail. When I was isolated getting mail was a lifeline. The internet is amazing and we should use it to connect. And there’s something about holding a letter in your hand that someone wrote for you that fills the soul in a unique way.
“Your people” need you now more than ever. This is an opportunity to shine God’s light and hope into a scared and hurting world. I hope it’s not an opportunity that is overlooked.
Such a beautiful and thoughtful reflection. Thank you, Amanda, for sharing!
Thank you for sharing from that vulnerable space. I can connect so much more easily when I’m hearing vulnerability. Helps me be vulnerable, too.
Social distancing is a mostly, though not completely new experience for me. I’m noticing now memories from my childhood/teen years when I practiced social distancing without knowing it in order to be safe in my volatile family environment. But in my adult life, it’s been a long, long time since this practice has been an imperative, as it is now.
When I pay attention to the blessings in my life – and there are so, so many! – then I experience the deep love that’s within and all around me, and I am at home and at peace. One small example of this is what happened today while, keeping my distance from others of course, I took a walk in my favorite park. As I approached the completely empty parking lot, an exuberant little helmeted cyclist and his scurrying mother came into view. “Woo hoo! Woo hoo! C’mon! Follow me, everybody!” the boy declared. As he sped around the lot, his mother, dog and phone in tow, was earnestly running after him, catching every second that she could of this bold expedition on video. “Watch out for the bumps!” the boy cried, sharing wise words for anyone listening.
Doubtless, some happy grandparents, or aunties and uncles, or cousins would soon be the delighted recipients of his glee. And there was I, an eye witness! How blessed can it get? 😄
Thank you Amanda. I’m just now reading your words, over a month after you wrote them. But they are still valid. Your advice to reach out to multiple people a day is especially true, I think. My spirits are always lifted when I have contact with other people, whether it’s an unexpected phone conversation or just another masked passerby on the sidewalk. Happy Mother’s Day!