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Isolated Incidents

The one who isolates pursues selfish desires; that one rebels against all sound wisdom.  (Proverbs 18:1)

I had to chuckle at this verse as it was the first one of my devotion this morning. This translation, from the Christian Standard Bible, may be true in the general idea, but for our 2020 thoughts about COVID-19, I'm not sure that self-imposed isolation has anything to do with selfish desires, but communal necessity and good.

But, the Bible verse does start us on a quest for understanding: What is the difference between isolation and solitude? Can we develop a theology of isolation? Imprisonment? Solitude? Exile? Can we do this together?

Throughout the Bible, various people ranging from prophets to prisoners, kings and their cousins, Jews and Gentiles, have been unceremoniously cast out of their every day lives to exist in either self-imposed or administered exile. I've been trying to make a list of Biblical figures who fit these parameters, and the longer I think, I wonder …
Recent posts

Over the Fence

I walked down the street in the brilliant sunshine with an aluminum pan. Unfortunately, no one was watching because most people have been asked to stay inside, but if they would have questioned me, I would have told them I was a delivery guy.

My delivery was a pasta bake which Christine, my wife, had whipped up in the morning. In fact, she had fashioned four or five meals for delivery because cooking is one of the things that she loves to do. Amazingly, when people tap into their God-given gifts, joy seems to bubble up from beneath the bedrock of routine life. A fissure of hope allows this joy to reach the surface, and I could see it in Christine's face that she was expectantly excited about having this food end up in the hands of people who can really use it.

So, I walked up the street, sun glinting, a blinding reflection off the tinfoil. I approached the house of the elderly couple whose wedding I had officiated two years before. When I reached the gate to their backyard, I coul…

Just Don't...

The first car I remember my parents owning was a forest green, early 80's, wood-panelled Family Truckster station wagon. My parents were so proud to be driving the same kind of wheels as the Griswalds (of the National Lampoon's Vacation fame). The plush interior, green fake-leather seats and adjustable headrests for the parents, along with an am/fm radio with SIX! programmable buttons for radio stations created a supreme sense of luxury.

My parents would sit like royalty in the front bench seat; we three young kids (my little sister wasn't born yet) would either sit in the back seat or crawl over into the luggage compartment area where we could move around. Because this was before seatbelts, the blessing of not sitting next to my brother or sister was wonderful.

On long trips, though, the luggage area would be jam-packed with necessities for our trip to Wallyworld, and we, the kids, would be crammed like pre-pubescent sardines into the non-airconditioned backseat, heads th…

Mid-Week Break

The afternoon blazed with beautiful sunshine; the grass radiated healthy-greenness; the wind was warm for those of us who were outside for school recess. Children's voices, loud and jubilant, floated on the same warm breeze. With yellow vest wrapped around my shoulders, I tilted my face to the sun and not for the first time wondered if all of this difficulty was just a bad dream.

My lunchtime guard duty was in the dusty patch of space called Deborah Grove. Meeting me at the gate were a dozen children all wanting to erupt into their play space, but one of them, Millie, met me with a joyful smile. She held out her hand to me, as always, and wanted to take my hand. Frustratingly, I had to tell her that we aren't allowed to have our hands connect - no high fives (or in her case, a low five). Millie shrugged, smiled her big gappy smile, one tooth missing and another ready to eject from her mouth, and said, 'Okay. But watch me. I'm going to do a handstand.' Then, with ni…

For Whom the Bell Tolls

My friend, Cees, (pronounced 'Case') is Dutch. Well, that's where he was born and raised; his speech still has tinges of the beautiful Dutch accent, but now he lives in Australia and has for almost forty years.

Cees is a butcher by trade, and a very good one. Cees is also an exceptional pastoral carer and helps far and wide (even in the butcher shop) to bring peace into places of discord. This morning, Cees and I got together (where two or three are gathered...) and had a chat about the past, present and future.

The past...

Cees' father, Willem, grew up during World War II. As Holland was overrun by the Nazis, this took an incredible toll on the people of Willem's village. One day, when Willem was in school, he heard a terrible noise. As the children gathered at the window to see what had happened, they noticed that the Nazis had climbed the steeple of the village church and had removed the large church bell from its perch far above the town and had pushed it over t…

A Break from Reality

The reality is, there is no escaping.

I'm not talking about the virus, per se, although some might say this is inevitable; I'm writing about the inescapable difficulty not to be thinking about the coronavirus. Everything we are engaged in, whether media, social isolation or common conversations, are infected with fear.

It's hard work to be afraid all the time. Blood pressure rises. Anxiety increases. Brain function seems to slow because all of our senses are attuned to threats of exposure. It's like a computer that's trying to do routine calculations, but in the background, a six hour video is trying to upload to the internet. All because we can't take a break from reality.

The government's reality is that we are bombarded with COVID-19 rules: don't gather here, don't have too many people, if you've come from somewhere else, stay home for two weeks, wash your hands, etc... If you're anything like me, your head is spinning trying to do the ri…

Is it Just Me?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to chat with a man in our community. He is eighty years old, barely, but could easily be confused with someone fifteen years younger. As an active member of the community, he regularly engages in all sorts of social activities, which include interacting with people of all ages, not just those in his age bracket.

As we talked, he kept his distance.

I don't think - no, I know - this is not what he desired. The age group of baby-boomers/greatest generation was built on personal, connected, face-to face interaction, and to be told to self-isolate, or to quarantine is about as debilitating as bashing the computer modem to death and telling teenagers to call their friends on the phone, go outside and play.

He said, "This whole thing, I feel like everything that is important to me has been ripped away from me." First by the government, then by his church.

The subtle but unintended implication of the governments directives and the church's &#…