Quarantine. When it seems all has been stripped away, what remains? Comfort traded for uncertainty. Ease becomes disruption. Anticipation leads to loss. Shared spaces become divided souls. Joyful moments to forced boundaries. Sense of time is disordered (how do weeks feel more like months, yet how have we lost two months already?!).
What has this experience taught me? Just as the fog hanging over and affecting all of us is tangible yet difficult to describe, so are the lessons learned while in quarantine. Here is my attempt to capture a few. What are yours?
1: Human connection is vital. At the end of the day, projects and work do not satisfy. They don’t heal. They don’t fulfill longing. But a touch, a hug, proximity, shared space is what truly feeds the human soul.
2: Comparison isolates and judgment divides. When we compare, we judge others or ourselves–someone is seen as superior, the other inferior. Judgment divides. Comparison feed shame and shame isolates. This only compounds social distancing. We forget suffering is suffering, pain is pain and joy is joy. We need each other and can learn from each other in the midst of differences in responses and experiences.
3: Kindness heals. Intentional acts and thoughtful gestures are healing balm to a lonely soul. Never underestimate the power of a donated flower, a delivered drink, an offered meal, a word of encouragement. Don’t hesitate to pursue, speak the kind word, hang the encouraging sign, decorate the sidewalk, write the letter or make the call. All we have is today and each other.
4: Safety, health, life and physical resources are not our right, but gifts of grace and mercy. They are to be valued, respected, protected and appreciated. And we have so much more to learn about how we can protect each other through our sacrifices and how we can share with those in need.
5: Hopes and dreams are not extravagant or frivolous. They are foundational to survival. Without something to look forward to, we lose our vision. Without vision, we lose our way. Without aim, we perish. Hopes and dreams are oxygen to the lungs of life. Even through the fog, we must fight for our hopes and dreams and intentionally help others find theirs.
6: The sun changes everything. When we are in God’s creation, it’s as if we hear Him speaking our name and saying: I see you. I’m still your Sustainer. There is light in darkness. There is beauty. There is new life. I made the flowers bloom more vibrantly this Spring because I knew you would need the color to see through this fog. Do you see it? Savor it more than ever before. I delight in your enjoyment and worship. Be still and know that I am God.
7: There is humility and freedom in surrender and sacrifice. Americans have more to learn about submission and laying down our rights for the good and preservation of others. This is a living example of the life and ministry of Christ: isolated, alone, sacrifice. So that others may live. If we search for it, the story of the Gospel is woven into this experience.
8: Collective grief is so heavy. It is layered. It is draining. It is grey fog. It only lifts when named, through lament, through surrender, through togetherness, and through gratitude and sprinkles of joy in the midst of the rain.
9: When all is stripped away, what remains is exposed. We grasp for the ease, comfort and pleasure we have known, longing for distraction. When we lean in, we have opportunity. Opportunity to reorder for new rhythm, changed priorities, renewed connections, or accepted necessary endings.
10: God is all we have. Our Shield, Refuge, our Hope. All we have comes from Him. But how easy it is to assume it’s what we deserve or have earned. How easy we take for granted how often we forget to live thankfully and dependently. How quickly we grasp tightly in self-preservation, without considering those worldwide who are in need. How much I need to be humbled, brought to my knees, made poor in spirit. He is on His throne. He knows what we need. He sees. He provides. When all is stripped away, He remains faithful.