To my fellow pilgrims on the way to the promised end
As I write the letter for this fourth week of Lent, I have just secured a precious treasure from the Aldi next door: a single packet containing 4 rolls of two-ply toilet paper. The conversations as I stood in the long queues were mainly centred around how mad the world has gone, concerns for elderly parents, and recommendations on where people might find other rarities like hand sanitiser and antibacterial baby wipes.
In this anxious time, we face not only significant concerns about our health and the capacity of our health care system to handle this rapidly changing situation, but also considerable interruptions to our daily life as we are called to care for another by maintaining our distance and self-isolating in the case of overseas travel or any sign of illness.
At church, we cannot pass the Peace as we are accustomed or share in a common cup or offer a hand on the shoulder or a warm embrace – even though these signs of Christian fellowship are sometimes the only experience of community and connection that we might encounter in a week.
Yet, as Jesus heals the man born blind by counterintuitively covering his eyes with a mixture of mud and spit in John 9, perhaps we can find new eyes with which to see how we can expand our circle of care beyond one sacred hour in the week or the physical limitations of our church buildings.
Yosef Kanefsky, a Rabbi in Los Angeles, offers some provocative thoughts on how we might protect each other by mutual distancing yet still offer meaningful and much-needed connection: “Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.”
Yours in Christ