It’s hard. Children are off school, but playgrounds are taped off like crime scenes.
In the fear of sickness and death, so many of the frightened are not allowed the comfort of a touch.
One in 10 workers has lost a job and is now confined to a home they may not be able to afford to keep.
We have been blessed in the past with freedom, movement, security and hope. But suddenly they seem distant memories, stolen by an invisible thief.
We have waves of sadness, depression, loneliness and sometimes anger.
What do we make of all this distance and isolation? Is there any message or meaning in it all?
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus and His encounters with people in need. I thought about stories like when He met the bier carrying the lifeless son of the widow in Nain. And the paralytic He told to take up his mat and go home.
I find a resonant chord echoing in so many of these. Whether banishing demons, healing lepers or giving sight to the blind, He was ministering to people who were living in isolation. Men and women socially distanced by fear, ostracized by cultural norms, physically dependent but virtually alone.
There’s the woman who grabbed the hem of Jesus’s garment. She had been bleeding for 12 years, and all that time in ritual exile from her neighbors.
Or the cure of the boy plagued by seizures, falling “into the fire or into the water.” Bet he didn’t have many playmates.
And there was the man with dropsy, abnormal swelling of the body. Jesus cured him on the Sabbath. But for this man, the Sabbath was no different than any other day — he was always painfully alone, a freak and a spectacle.
A word often used in these is “restored.” Jesus restored their hearing, their health, even a withered hand. But I think the restoration was much deeper than that.
By just seeing them, responding to them, caring for them, He ushered them into life. He removed the distance of their condition and brought them back into relation with others.
Compared to theirs, our confinement is not that bad. But still, we’ve had a taste of it.
Perhaps, when the orders are lifted and the doors opened, we will reach across neighborhoods, social boundaries and physical differences to touch others for whom no government decree can ever bridge their separation from the rest of us.