It is possible in 2020 to stay in your house, by yourself, without interacting in person with another human for months on end. Coronavirus is putting this hypothesis to the test. You could have tacos delivered to your door and left outside. Amazon will furnish you with toilet paper (maybe), vitamins, groceries and even toothpaste, if you feel the need to have good breath for yourself. You could do this while ingesting – by reading, watching and listening – all the right messages about how to live, what is true, who Jesus is and a whole bunch of other important things. And yet, you could still be miserable.
Curt Thompson, an author and thinker on the intersection of our souls and our brains, talks a lot about the word “embodiment.” The part of his work that has really impacted me lately is the brain science and psychology that is proving out what we intuitively know: digital life alone is not enough to live the way we are intended to live. We need physical, in-person interaction to thrive. I believe this is because we are created to be in community with one another, by a God who is in perpetual community. So when we are not, we are not fully us.
Technology is great but all the science, philosophy and theology is overwhelmingly clear: we need each other, in-person.
This can feel deep and overwhelming in this moment. “How are we gonna do that right now!?” But it doesn’t need to be. Before technology separated us and Coronavirus mandated it, people got to know each other primarily by working alongside one another, living in the same communities for their entire lives, families knowing generations of families and, generally, being in proximity, every day. This is still possible – though because it’s no longer seen as “necessary,” it will take some work.
We can start now, even in the era of “social distancing,” by simply learning more about one another. Here’s the great thing – we know this reveals, over time, much about who we are more deeply. And that’s when the really good stuff starts to kick in.
So, when this whole ‘social distancing’ starts to fade and we go back to normal life, make a challenge for yourself to eat a meal with someone who is, or should be, a part of your normal week pretty much every week. Maybe even reach out to them now and let them know you’d love to incorporate that when things go back to normal!
For the moment, with us currently not going to one another’s homes, get creative! One great idea is to do an ‘embodied’ activity over facetime. For example, I heard of two moms who recently facetimed while water coloring together. Or it could be another variation of some project. Some activity done at the same time and in the same way, gives us the most sense of ‘together’ we can have right now. And so desperately needed!
So, take a minute to think about who it should be and what you could do. Then reach out to them, right now. It’s how we’re meant to live – and life together will always be better.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Joel & Jeff