I had a little tea party
this afternoon at three.
‘Twas very small, three guests in all,
just I, myself and me.
Myself ate up the sandwiches,
and I drank up the tea.
‘Twas also I who ate the pie,
and passed the cake to me.
This little ditty makes light of what has been, for many, a central issue of this pandemic — a debilitating sense of loneliness and isolation. Maybe for a while it seemed like an opportunity for quietness and solitude, but that wore off pretty quickly, and a sense of abandonment set in. Being isolated from loved ones and family members, unable to visit the sick in the hospital or be by the side of the dying has been the worst part of this yearlong experience. And we’re not over it yet.
Relationships through a computer screen have been a poor substitute for face-to-face encounters, hugs, and the warmth of human touch. Presence, the intangible part of any relationship, does not pass through the camera’s eye. Presence has to be felt in bodily form.
So we’re all missing out to a certain degree, some more than others, and some in ways we don’t even realize. So loneliness and isolation are affecting everyone.
What can we do about that?
Among other things, here is the first thing that comes to mind: focus in more deeply on your relationship with the Lord. It’s not only loneliness, it’s fear that is threatening to grip our hearts. Walking with the Lord addresses both issues of loneliness and of fear. Just listen to probably the best-known Psalm in the world.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul…
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. Psalm 23:1-4
Here is the intimacy of a soul relationship with God, and comfort and companionship in one’s darkest moments. David knows what to do about loneliness and fear.
In Chandler’s and my rejuvenated relationship with physicist Lambert Dolphin, it’s been impossible not to notice the importance of his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He talks about it all the time. He speaks of Jesus intimately as if he just got out of a meeting with Him. And he’s thrilled about it. It’s hard to imagine Lambert lonely, the way he speaks about his cherished time with Jesus. Lambert’s a single man. He’s been locked up like everyone else, and locked up alone. But if you asked him, I bet he’d tell you it’s been great. Why? He’s been locked up with Jesus.