When is the last time you shook hands with someone? Or gave someone a hug? Someone outside of your quarantine circle? A few weeks ago my son and I were walking on our street and greeted two neighbors: a mom and her teenage son, who has Down’s Syndrome. When we greeted the son, he did something unexpected—he approached us and wanted to shake our hands. I was startled and quickly replied: “I’m sorry that I can’t shake your hand, but how about a virtual hug.” I opened my arms and pretended to hug him from a few feet away. His mom smiled. And then we went our separate ways. My son said that he felt sad, and I wept. This one interaction summed up all the challenge of connecting with others from a distance.
We are a living paradox right now—embodying the importance of disconnection and connection. “Sheltering-in-place” for the sake of our community fabric. Our connections are a vehicle for disease spread—as well as the vehicle for healing. Germs and love travel the same pathways.
In spite of our season of disconnection, I see people offering their best and truest selves to others: artists offering concerts from their living rooms and kitchens, authors and teachers reading aloud to children, doctors and nurses giving their all at work, business people regrouping to keep parts of the economy afloat. These are all acts of courage—examples of people showing up in love for the good of others.
Many of you are living into your true self these days. Well done, warriors. And for some of us: what is keeping you from reaching out with your true self, in love?
- Some of us are disconnected because of fear and anxiety. Isolated in our own world of worry: disease, scarcity, death.
- Others of us are disconnected because of shame. Isolated in our own world of inadequacy: concern that we are not worthy enough, the world needs far more than we can offer.
- Still others of us are disconnected because of anger. Isolated in our own world of resentment: distressed that we and the world are not good enough, right enough, strong enough.
If you’re listening when this episode drops, it’s a few days after Easter, the day where Jesus reached out with his true self, in love, for the good of the world. In the risen Christ, we are finally connected to our true selves, our fellow human beings, and to God. Although this Easter was not the hubbub of social connection we are used to, it was similar to the first Easter. Empty tomb, empty churches. The Risen Christ appears first to one person: Mary. Then to a small group: the women ready to work at the tomb at sunrise. On Easter evening, Jesus appears to two weary and hopeless travelers on the road to Emmaus. And later that week Jesus appears to the disciples, who are quarantined together, locked up in the Upper Room.
Wherever you find yourself this Easter season, by yourself, with a few hard-working friends, with a few weary travelers, or locked up with your family, may Jesus appear to you as he appeared that first Easter. May your eyes be opened to recognize him. May your heart receive his love. May you receive the life that he offers. Through Jesus, may you be connected to your true self, your neighbor, the world, and to God—and may you too show up, in love, for the good of the world. Jesus is the Great Connector.
In the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians, chapter 1, verses 15-20:
15[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17[Jesus] himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.
- Thomas Aquinas, Dominican friar, philosopher, priest, and doctor of the church (13th century)
- Let us pray
Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart,
Which no unworthy affection may drag downward;
Give me an unconquered heart,
Which no tribulation can wear out;
Give me an upright heart,
Which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.
Bestow on me also, O Lord my God,
Understanding to know you,
Diligence to seek you,
Wisdom to find you,
And a faithfulness that may finally embrace you;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Until next time, receive this blessing from the Risen Christ, which he offers to the quarantined disciples, and to all of us:
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20.21)
May you feel God’s peace. And may Jesus send you out—so that you may show up, in love, for the good of the world.
Today, this week, and always. Amen.