The last few weeks and months have been a challenge! And now there is COVID-19. Help us Lord. I actually had tickets to go the NCAA Women’s tournament – the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 – to see the #1 Lady Gamecocks of South Carolina. This was the one time I wanted the NCAA to standby their money-grabbing ways, but alas, when Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, ALL bets were off and I was bummed. So now, my debate about whether to fly to Atlanta, to take some lovely up-in-age ladies to an overdue lunch and to attend a meeting of my own creation, continues. The dilemma consists of much more than a decision to board a plane with strangers whose hygiene habits are unfamiliar to me. It consists of more than guarding my face against germs springing from the mouths of others during sneezes and coughs. It entails more than figuring a way to maintain distance while sitting and walking on an airplane and through an airport. The major part of the dilemma, for me, is balancing the need we have for human contact, with the need to avoid human contact.
My “nephew” and his wife just welcomed a beautiful addition to the family. Their son has a need to feel their nearness; to feel their love and care. Skin-to-skin contact is deemed beneficial to the health of baby and parents in a number of ways, including facilitating the acclimation of the baby to the world outside the womb (see https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/implementing-standards-resources/skin-to-skin-contact/). So how might that dynamic still be desirable for us today, as grown people or as non-babies? How may skin-to-skin contact benefit us today?
We live in a very picturesque hamlet but it affords me far fewer hugs than I got when we lived “home.” I have not fully adjusted to this, even though we have been out here (Broomfield, Colorado) for almost five years. For the first two+ years, I was flying home monthly or bi-monthly to be with my mom. And I was collecting and storing hugs and skin-to-skin contact. All of it sustained me (and continues to) while being out here. Now, I don’t mean to imply that I don’t have relationships that allow for hugs and care and concern here but the more meaningful of the relations are still derived from elsewhere. Given my recognition of the need for human contact, it crushes me to hear of suicides and depression among us. Many of you can recall when Braelon was nearing the very end of his fifth academic year, one of his friends took his life. Well, fast forward to the days after this past Christmas and Braelon had a football teammate/classmate/friend do the same. A few weeks ago, a young adult from our church here took her life. That loss was devastating, on a number of levels. Last week, Al was on a conference call with his people, who were working from various locations. Before they got to the meat of the call, one of his employees interrupted with apologies about having to leave the call immediately. Her son had just sent her a text stating that one of his friends had taken his life – AT SCHOOL. What have we become? What have we allowed to happen to us? (See also 1 Corinthians 12:21-26.)
I have theories and what I sometimes believe are answers, but they are mine. What do you think? How does society dictate norms for you? How have we all allowed social media to influence our lives and communication habits and, more importantly, our contact with others? How does our state of busyness inform our lives? What can we do differently to positively effect those who love us, and in turn, those we love? I’m just asking! COVID-19 has demanded that we do a number of things differently, to be more mindful of rituals and practices we take for granted. There are always messages for us embedded in crisis. Where can skin-to-skin fit in? What is the Lord requiring of us – requiring of you? I don’t know all of it but part of it is DO BETTER!! And all of us can.