“That’s what you do in a herd.”
That, of course, is the famous line from Diego the sabre-toothed tiger in the classic movie Ice Age. Diego, after travelling with Manny the mammoth and Sid the sloth throughout the story, becomes protective of his former prey. He becomes part of their herd and risks his life for them. (I love that scene! You can see it here: https://youtu.be/tQJTJdTM0Wk)
What do we do in the herd?
Humanity is a herd species. You may love your quiet and alone time, but you need others on some level. We were made this way. A creator who loves being with others, uses ‘us’ terminology, and even created in his image out of the delight of friendship, had socializing in mind with us. Many researchers have covered this topic from different angles, and we keep coming back to the same place. We need each other, and we thrive in the presence of others.
Learning the value of proximity is a lesson we all value.
Now during a pandemic, we notice it the most. We are isolated, whether by choice or due to our circumstances. We tell ourselves to stay at home, use social media to bridge the gap, and scold others for going to the office if they could do it from home. But by day 2 we start to notice the difference. There are no unsolicited ‘Hello!’s inside your house. You can only tell yourself the same story so many times before you wonder if you will ever respond back! There are plenty of digital means to connect with the society around us, and therein lies the truth: We desperately want to connect with others.
Faith communities such as mine have much to say about this. Who are we if we cannot gather in person?
I have told church groups for years that the church is not just what we do on a Sunday morning. Most people nod along to that sentiment, but when the rubber meets the road, it is a hard thing to remember. Singing along in worship alone while watching a TV can feel a little…weird. There is that social tug again. Our desire to meet together. To hear someone say hello. To see their eyes when they say it. And possibly shake a hand, or give a hug, or pat someone on the back…IRL (in real life).
This is your opportunity to be bigger than Sunday. Be bigger than a boring meeting. Be bigger than a talking head. Be bigger than one event.
Isolation teaches us something about the value of others. Time in the desert reminds us of the goodness of friendship. While we are isolated we have the opportunity to share and connect with humanity in ways we ignored before, largely because we took those things for granted. So how will you shed light in dark times?
Here are a few suggestions I am giving myself for the coming days:
- Show gratitude. Wake up each day thankful for the chance to live today. Now go through the list of all that follows as you remember. Now you can have a cup of coffee!
- Send an email to someone on the fringe of your radar. Write it like a letter from a friend. That takes time.
- Call an old friend. Maybe someone you know for a fact will feel more alone.
- Write a note. Take it one step further, print out an old picture you took but have not shown anyone else, and write on the back. They used to call these postcards!
- Learn to video chat. Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, Facetime, Skype… there’s probably a few options on your phone or computer right now. Invite a few people to discuss something other than a pandemic or toilet paper.
- End your day the way it started. With gratitude. Release what you cannot control or do anything about when you go to bed. And listen for ways to be thankful.
Remember, the herd does not fall apart in tough times. God willing, it becomes stronger.
As always, I am available for coaching or help in discernment via video conferencing. Just let me know and we can set up a time.