How are you doing with the lock down? It may be that with restrictions being eased a little, life may become easier for you. On the other hand it may not. Recently there has been lots of speculation as to what will and will not happen. But circumstances have not been speculative for these last weeks. They have been real. For some, that has meant a tough and stressful time. For others it has been an opportunity to connect with those they live with, to sort things that have been long neglected, or to pursue a new activity.
My wife and I have largely been able to treat this time as a time of opportunity. Quietly getting on with our life, our rhythm and our routine, however, has led me to forget that others are having a very different experience. The radio has given me some timely reminders. I’d forgotten that the streets had been cleared of homeless people, that they had been re-housed in the empty hotels.
Patrick was being housed in the Holiday Inn in Bristol. He had been homeless after leaving care at 16. His parents had died when he was 11. When he was asked what being housed in the Holiday Inn was like, without hesitation he said, ‘prison!’. He then explained that he was on his own, confined in one small room for 23 hours a day. The only people who had been in contact were the Big Issue team to ask how he was. On the street, selling the Big Issue, he had a chance to encounter people, to be connected.
As human beings we are programmed to connect, to seek and celebrate connection.
Separation is alien to us and that is what we have been asked to do over these past weeks, to separate. In avoiding a contagious virus, we have been deprived of togetherness and all that this brings. Like Jesus, at times it is good for us to separate and to reflect, to ‘go into the wilderness to pray’, but, as he showed us, it is also important to connect with those around us.