Keep it together!
I expect it will be harder for all of us – probably some more than others – to keep mentally healthy during the lock-down. I feel quite privileged to have the space to walk around on the Church site, but many will feel stressed or anxious trapped in their apartments or homes. Parents may be struggling to cope with bored children, and those caring for a relative at home may find life very pressured. I think of the long-term disruption already experienced by householders who have in recent months suffered from flooding. For a while they couldn’t access their homes, but now they can’t leave them!
We have been hearing of all sorts of ways in which people are trying to compensate for lack of normal social contact in the present crisis. For some, the visit of the postman/woman, or the milkman/woman becomes quite an event! I heard Barry Cryer on the radio the other day extolling the virtues of the good old telephone (and it was nice to see a picture in the paper of two royals – the Queen and Kate Middleton – using an old fashioned landline phone). And then there are all the blessings of the latest modern technology.
How about this? I’ve been told that dog walkers are taking the opportunity to greet and chat to each other with new enthusiasm. They are keeping their distance of course, but being more friendly.
Perhaps we will all be more appreciative of our previously taken-for-granted social contacts when things return to normal, and maybe more sympathetic to those people who every day of the year feel lonely and isolated. Perhaps some social connectors which have been declining for years will have new life – the mobile shop in a van, or the policeman on the beat, for example.
The New Testament is in no doubt about the importance of fellowship. The communal meal, the community of the church, the choirs of angels all testify to that. Without trying to depress anyone, even our deaths, which often are presented as lonely and isolated, have a communal aspect to them. Paul writes, using figurative language, in 1 Thessalonians 4:
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.