Living with Isolation

I am writing this in week five of “lock down”. At least, I think we are in week five? One of the things that feels different in this period of isolation is the passage of time.

There are things about isolation that many people are finding difficult. The most obvious is not being able to meet up with loved ones. Contact through social media has been a lifeline for many. But no amount of social media is the same as having that person in the room with you.

This is all the more difficult for those who are recently bereaved and who would normally be able to find comfort in the presence of friends and loved ones.

In Genesis, when the Lord God created Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden, he said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And so, God created Eve.

Some of us enjoy solitude and our own company more than others. But all of us need others in our lives to a greater or lesser extent. As human beings, we have been created to relate to God and to one another.

As I write, it seems increasing evident from the news reports that many people are finding it hard to maintain “social distancing”. Many are understandably frustrated at not being free to do the things they enjoy. Others are understandably anxious about money and about work.

In the creation story, Adam is placed in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it. Honest work is a God given blessing. Being denied the opportunity to use our talents and creativity is not a good thing.

We are immensely grateful to God for those who continue to work at this time; for those who keep the power switched on, those who help to provide us with food and medicines, those who work in communications, and of course those working in our hospitals and care homes.

But how might the rest of us use our time and talents creatively in this time of isolation?

This precious gift of time we have might allow us to learn something new. This springtime, I’ve been learning to recognise birds in the garden. Not easy for someone who is colour blind! But it’s giving me an even greater appreciation of God’s glory in creation.

In a life of busyness that is full of distractions, it is easy to lose sight of life’s simple pleasures and the things that in life that are the most important. Enjoying the glory of God in Creation is one of those things. Our relationships with friends and family is another. Our relationship with God is a third.

In his “Confessions”, Saint Augustine drafted one of the most profound sentences ever written:

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in You.

Saint Augustine takes us back to the creation narrative in Genesis and reminds us that we have been created for a purpose, a relationship with our Creator and Redeemer. But, so much of the time, the round of busyness and (let’s be honest) frivolous distractions takes centre stage.

In this time of relative isolation, many of us have the opportunity to put that right; to focus on those things that really matter … and, ultimately, the only thing that will matter when we ours bodies take their final breath, … our relationship with the God who gives us life.

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in You.

Even for Christians, the temptation in this time is to exchange one round of distractions for another. Instead, may we seize this God-given opportunity to grow in our faith; … to read more of our Bibles, … to pray regularly, … and to enjoy consciously being in the presence of the Lord.

In this period of forced isolation, we are not alone. Jesus says …

“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Revd Stephen Robertson

26th April, 2020