Sharing Space during Corona

In my last blog, I talked about how we need people in our lives. But there’s a flip side – the challenge some of us may be facing, which is: learning to navigate life with those under the same roof. If you are among the millions who are basically staying at home, maybe, just maybe, the other people in your house are starting to get annoying. It’s them, of course. It’s not you.

Either way, it simply means we all could use a little help keeping our family & marriage relationships on healthy footing. I recently read an article that has some helpful insight, reminding all of us that marriage and family relationships don’t come automatically. They take work. The ideas they propose seem pretty good to me; at least they remind me of things I need to be doing: focus on the good; eliminate the negative; show some grace.

Or, as Ogden Nash once put it:

To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.

We Weren’t Made to Be Alone

For some folks who contract it, the health effects of Covid-19 can be devastating. Likewise, we owe untold gratitude to those on the frontlines, providing care to those who are sick. The health risks and consequences are real.

But another element that is also affecting us is the isolation of this pandemic. It separates those who are ill from those they love. Even those who treat them have to be so encased in protection that it must be hard to tell who is caring for them.

By its nature, Covid-19 is a disease of separation – pulling people apart. And this is not just true for those who contract the disease – it’s true throughout society. Many of the things that have brought us together are now on hold. So much that we took for granted just 2 months ago has seemingly changed overnight – and who knows which of those things will be forever changed?

This pandemic has reminded us how much we need each other. We are not meant to live in isolation. Extrovert, introvert, or “ambivert,” we need others in our lives – people we can be real and raw with.

This was reinforced for me through a recent podcast conversation between Dr. Curt Thompson & Michael John Cusick. There are good insights throughout, such as: Get outside more than once a day. Anxiety is often about the future, but it impacts our present. We think of it as a state of mind, but it manifests itself in the body. If we can simply take a breath, remember who we are, be present – and be present before Christ – it can help change the equation.

But I was especially struck by Thompsons’s insight that not only is Genesis clear that we are not meant to be alone – it’s also that we are most vulnerable when we are alone. Alone physically, yes; but also emotionally, spiritually, relationally.

I need this truth now more than ever. Spending most of my time at home, I’m more aware of the ways that I need others in my life. I’m working on ways to nurture this during a time of “physical distancing,” but talking over Zoom or texting just isn’t that same as being real with someone, in person.

To that end, I wonder how this pandemic will change the Church. Will we find ourselves relying more on technology? Will we, for at least a short time, be limited in our gatherings? I don’t know, but both seem likely.

Even so, in the midst of these changes & challenges, our need for others will not change. We need – I need – real friends I can be real with in the reality that I’m really living.

So, my hope is that, whatever Church ends up looking like post-corona, it will be more real, more raw, more relational – where all of us come out of quarantine and isolation, less concerned with how well we “do Sunday” – and more concerned with how well we “do life” with each other.

Hope

In Luke 24, we’re told about 2 people walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. This is the only time they appear in scripture, so we basically know nothing about them. In fact, for one of them we don’t even have a name; the other is called Cleopas. Luke tells us that as they walk to Emmaus on that first Easter Sunday, they are talking about what has happened that weekend. Soon, they’re joined by an unknown companion; well, unknown to them – Luke tells us it’s Jesus. And Cleopas & his companion begin to tell Jesus what happened that weekend, and then they say: “We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel” (verse 21).
We had hoped…

Hope is in our blood. It’s part of what makes us human, what sets us apart from other creatures: We’ve got to have hope to go on – to live life in any meaningful way. And oh how we need hope right about now.

For some, right now, their hope is centered on getting through this virus – keeping their health, their job, getting life back to “normal.”

But Hope is bigger than that, isn’t it? Sure we want this virus to move on, for treatments to work, for a vaccine to be developed, for life to go back to “Normal” – whatever that means.

We’d like for that to be the case. But that’s not our Hope.

We are Easter people. This means we are people of hope. And our hope does not depend on “flattening the curve.” Our hope doesn’t rise or fall with the stock market. Our hope doesn’t depend on Washington, or New York, or Frankfort – or how we feel, or what others think of us, or even what we think of ourselves. These all have a role to play, and we definitely care how things turn out. But our hope isn’t tied to any of the metrics that change daily, even hourly.

No. Our hope is that Easter day was Resurrection day – a day that changes EVERY day. Which means, we are Day After people – for we live every day after Easter in light of what happened on Easter.

And no matter what comes, we can face trouble or hardship, fear or famine, the coronavirus or the uncertain or the unknown – because of what happened yesterday. For the resurrection changes everything.

When Cleopas and his companion returned to Jerusalem, they were not the same people who had left Jerusalem earlier that day. They were people whose eyes had been opened. Whose hope had been realized. Who could now face every day because of what happened that day.

For Jesus is alive. And no day has been the same since.