Yesterday I wrote a little bit about offering a blessing to those working hard to keep things going at the moment in our schools and shops. By acknowledging the strain they are under and asking how they are instead of criticising or taking our frustration out on them, we can offer a “blessing rather than a curse”. Today, I want to make special mention of the staff in the pharmacies where queues are never ending every day. We keep them in our thoughts and prayers. Acknowledging those who are under extra strain just now is part of the picture but there’s another aspect to our changed life that’s worth highlighting.
With the instruction to self isolate, have no physical contact and distance ourselves from others when we are out and about, we are being asked to go against our human need for connectivity and relationship. Being in community requires us to practice our social skills but at moment, anti social behaviour is requested: no handshakes, no hugs, no sitting beside each other to eat or have a coffee in public.
In the bible in 1st Corinthians 13, we hear these words “Love is patient and kind”. How can we show love if we can’t get alongside someone or have physical contact. Well, think of the last time someone was patient with you or kind to you. Although it may have been communicated through touch or a physical gift, it’s more likely that you understood their patience and kindness through the tone of their voice, the warmth of their smile, the gentleness of their attitude. Love is a verb, it needs to be doing. So in these changed days of social behaviour where there is so much that we cannot do, how about we work around the social distancing with a bit more sociability. “A smile goes a long way” as the old saying goes or here are the words of an old hymn to think about:
O brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother;
where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
to worship rightly is to love each other,
each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.
Follow with reverent steps the great example
of him whose holy work was doing good;
so shall the wide earth seem our Father’s temple,
each loving life a psalm of gratitude.