• Philip

Physically distanced, Socially connected, Purposefully Alone...


I know what they mean about "Social Distancing", but my observation has been this past week that many people have been more in touch with those around them than they normally are, albeit with at least 2m between them (unless they're in the same household or they're serving others through their vocation).


It's perhaps telling that so many people have also said how tiring they're finding it, connecting with people in a different way, but also connecting much more. My screen time has gone through the roof, data usage on our broadband has hit an all-time high, and just in Brockley Community Church we've spent more than 6000 minutes on Zoom between us in the past week! No wonder some of us are feeling tired - that's a lot of connecting, engaging, listening, sharing, praying and chatting that we've done between us, not counting other times we may have been online for work or with family.


A challenge I've found is that I've been used to having times in my day and week when I'm on my own. Being in a household of 5 active people means that it's been harder to find that time, to make space to sit and just be either with myself or with Jesus. For some of us, the increased connection with people has been a welcome thing because we might often feel that we usually have too much time on our own, but even then, the type of connection is perhaps different to what we'd prefer.


So how can we ensure that we stay socially connected, physically distant yet have meaningful solitude? Jesus took himself off to be with his Heavenly Father and did it in a way that fitted into, but took precedence over, the other happenings of his day. The Bible says of Jesus that "very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." It was the first appointment of the day for him, before the disciples and the crowds started to encroach on his time and space, but without it he wouldn't have been able to cope with the pressure and expectation that there was upon him. At the start of his ministry, he went into the desert for 40 days. Some scholars suggest that whilst it could have been a physical desert, it was also a metaphorical one. A place where he was totally reliant on the sustenance of God to see him through what would be a very intense and eventful 3 years.


Being socially connected, technology-wise, isn't too much of a challenge if we want to be. Being physically distant as much as possible is an absolute necessity at the moment. Being purposefully alone, in solitude - and I would strongly suggest that it's time spent with Jesus, is possibly more of a challenge than it's been previously, and will become increasingly important for our spiritual, emotional and mental health in the current situation. Jesus says he'll be with us in all our different situations. Let's make time to be with him.


PS How about trying to have a Zoom/Skype/WhatsApp/Email-free one day this week, maybe (Saturday) - a digital sabbath? I'm going to try, and will 'see' you soon, maybe on Sunday morning.

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