These are strange, worrisome and uncomfortable times. Most if not all of us are under some sort of stay-at-home order and all of us should be practicing social distancing. And aside from the practical reasons this is tough, i.e. losing work, difficulty in finding groceries and other necessities, homeschooling children, etc… I personally am having a difficult time with the “no touching” part of this.
For those who know me, they know I’m a hugger. And in my business life (a legal assistant) I substitute shaking hands for embracing. There is something to me about physical contact that I rely on. Touch helps me to connect with people on whatever level I need at that moment.
Because I can’t touch, I’ve started immediately putting my hands behind my back while maintaining my six-foot distance just so that I don’t accidentally reach out my hand for a shake. It’s left me a little disoriented, to say the least.
I saw a dear friend just last week at our office building. Cathy Kafve is one of the most ebullient and beautiful souls I’ve ever met. We stood opposite one another in the hallway and she confessed to how difficult this social distancing was for her (she’s a hugger too.) And she offered me her “virtual hug” by telling me how precious I was to her. She cried. I cried. Standing apart we shared our affection with words instead of touch.
It occurred to me this morning that maybe the disciples felt that way too in the days after Christ’s death on the cross. He’d been with them physically all of that time and now, perhaps at the moment they were just beginning to realize what an amazing gift they’d been given, the true Messiah among them, his presence was suddenly stolen.
We know from the bible that they were frightened, in fear for their very lives as followers of Christ. They were also mourning the loss of their beloved leader. They still didn’t fully understand or accept the promise of his Resurrection. And so, they went into hiding, secreting themselves alone.
In the last few weeks, I’ve had reminders placed before me about friendship.
I received an unexpected message from a fan, Leanne, in Canada just a week or so ago. She was writing to check in me, to see how I was doing. I marveled when I read those words because she isn’t just a fan, but a friend. I know she has tremendous struggles in her life and I have lifted prayers for her whenever she’s asked. So it surprised me when she, someone I’ve never physically met, thought to reach out and check on me. But it shouldn’t have. She’s taken the time to send me Christmas gifts, to express her sorry when I’ve shared my losses online. She’s made herself “present” to me when I’ve needed her. What a fantastic blessing that is!
My husband sent a letter to a dear friend in Houston. And just yesterday he received a response back that brought tears to my eyes. His friend told him how special he was to him, a brother, and then shared the passage from Proverbs 18:24:
For my part, my beautiful bestie Tawdra returned from a long trip during which we’d have little contact with one another. I was overcome yesterday with emotion about having her “back in my sphere” again and just had to express to her how much I loved her. Our “virtual hug” filled my heart.
All of this is to say that, what I’m learning or reminded of in this strange time is that I shouldn’t take anything for granted. That I should hold tight to the most special relationships in my life, to nurture them and remember to be thankful for them. Yes, I’m struggling with this social distancing thing, but just like the Apostles would learn upon the Resurrection, this too shall come to pass. We’ll get through these tough times and I hope (with belief and assurance) that we will all come out into the sun to realize how precious our lives are. We will resurrect ourselves in new and bolder ways and learn to love those dearest so strongly that we can share that light with all the world too.
And so dear ones, know that in my times of silence I am remembering all of you. I am praying for you even if I don’t know you by name. I wish you many blessings.
Now go out there and remember to tell someone you love them today.
Candace Olivia Hardin Sessums