I’m wondering - how you are doing? We’ve now been situated in this “new norm” for a couple of weeks now, and I’m curious about how everyone is adapting. Because I’m not sure I’ve adapted well. I think I’m getting there, but some days are really hard, really tough.
It’s interesting to me the things that I am struggling with. It’s not fear about my job or anxiety about how this is all going to turn out or whether or not I’ll have enough supplies to get us through. Maybe these are vague concerns, but that’s not what is keeping me up at night. I don’t think I could have even told you what it was until just a few days ago when I came face to face with “it” in a very real way.
You see when the lockdown became real, I went into action. Concerned about the homebound folks in my faith community, I reached out to our ministers and put a call list together. I connected with the local food pantry and offered whatever help they needed. And concerned about spiritual needs and my desire/need to pray with others we started doing the Facebook Live prayer and contemplation posts. This need for connection pushed me, drove me to find ways to connect, especially those who were isolated and alone, just like many of you. I was doing something, and that felt right. But then…
Being and doing for others is awesome and wonderful and meaningful. But at some point, the well runs low and needs to be replenished. And that is when I came face-to-face with darkness. You may not realize this or have had this experience, but when you do Facebook Live posts or almost anything virtual there is little sense of engagement. It isn’t like you are talking to a group of people and can see their body language or facial expressions and sense how it’s going. In the virtual world it is much different, especially for a novice like me. I’m finding this true even through Zoom. And so for someone who is skilled at tailoring things based on audience participation, getting little or no feedback is like talking to the wind. How do you know it actually went anywhere or did anything? I guess what I’m getting at is that I lost my sense of relevance, of worth. I lost my connection on a spiritual level with the folks I normally connect with and I felt lost. I smacked head first into the awareness that there was a real likelihood that what I was doing had no value. In a flash, all the existential questions became very, very real for me: who am I? What is my purpose? What is my worth in the world? How do I matter? How do I fit in the bigger picture?
I know, I know, these are all very ego-based questions and before all this happened I would have had the answers. Rooted in my faith and being able to lean into a community seemed enough. But then…..
So these days, I rest in what I am calling a deep loneliness. I no longer wrestle with the storm of emotions that emerged this past week. I’m sitting with the questions and listening for the deeper answers. They will come. But I long to explore these questions with others who are grappling with them too. I truly believe that I am not the only one experiencing this deep loneliness, this need to connect on a deeper level. And I’m not talking about the mundane, superfluous conversations – I’m talking about so much more. Where I need to be fed is at that deeper level. While I still turn to my perennial favorites for sustenance – Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, etc. – human to human conversation at that level would be really good right now.
So I am interested in hearing your story. Now that I’m knee deep in this virtual world I’m seeing there are ways to share and connect. I would love to offer space for us to hold these questions and explore how the answers are emerging for us right now. I would love to hear how others are working through some of this. I need this kind of food for my journey right now and I feel like others do to. So if you are one who desires these things too, let me know. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will set something up. Maybe this will give birth to a new way of being together, an authentic, real, meaningful way of connecting. I need that as much as you. I hope you will join me.