Posted by Ascension

The pandemic has shrunk our social circles, interactions, and horizons. The family networks
remain unchanged but we miss seeing loved ones – being in the same room – as we used to

do so. We miss the hugs – even if on reflection, some of them may have been rather perfunc-
tory. And we have all lauded the communication technology we can use – even if it is praising

Royal Mail for the letters and cards delivered and received.

Many of our other social networks, however, have shrunk. Retirees may not see their neigh-
bours or those in their clubs as much. Work networks have changed – even if we’re back in

the office, the desks are further apart! The protocol for
me in the police station is now to stand in the doorway
rather than enter the room. Our more distant networks
– the person we chat to at the local shop, the people
we recognise, maybe nod to, occasionally converse
with on the train or bus – can be more a memory now

after a year. (I wonder how they are doing?) The reo-
pening of schools had an educational focus – of

course – but it also had a social and well-being focus
as well.
Recently I read about a tragic condition or illness or
neurological disorder or something fraudulent – and
that’s part of the issue because people do not know

what it is – where children of asylum seekers slip into a non responsive, not-exactly-sleeping-
but-sleep-like state – which has been called, for now, Resignation Syndrome. It appears that

for some traumatised children, the trauma of the asylum seeking process is such that they

have no resilience anymore to face living with its uncertainties and stresses and such hope-
lessness consumes them and they ‘shut down’ (to be safe?). That such isolation and despair

could produce something like this is plausible to me. Sadly.

People sent to prison move from one social network to another. And in the liminal or transi-
tional stage of arrival and facing what is the new reality there can be an intense loneliness

and isolation – even if, especially if, other people are present, as the new prisoner has to
process all that has happened to bring about this new situation. Isolation and disorientation
are common in such situations.
I mention social interactions because I think we are more sensitive to isolation at the moment.

That is why we keep an eye out for each other in our social groups – particularly our congre-
gations. And if one goes to the supermarket of religions for support, I find in all aisles but one

static deities or geographical coordinates or instructions how to contact the divine. However
when I come to Christianity, I discover the God who moves – walks – and speaks. In fact this
aisle can look empty and when I turn away there is Jesus next to me – beside me. And, I like
to think, smiling.
Jesus spent the first afternoon of his resurrected life walking with two disciples to Emmaus
and opening the Scriptures to them. Jesus’ empty tomb declares the same thing for us in
2021, that as the Scriptures are opened and point to Jesus so he is present with us. Now
depending on who you think Jesus is, that might not be a comforting thought! But if you hear
of the story of the cross, then Jesus isn’t to be feared but followed. And even if our social

circles shrink so much that there is only us in our head and life in them, Jesus can still come
to us and squeeze in – because his Word declares that’s what Jesus wants to do – walk with us,
forgive us, care for us, guide us, help us, bless us, be with us. No matter how small the circle
gets, Jesus can still be there with us. GS