It’s a word that many of us are growing familiar with at this time. Whether we are isolated because of health reasons or, isolated because of the circumstances at the moment. Phone calls and social media contact are good, but they do not take away the feelings that isolation brings with it
I know that I have joked that if I had my time again I would be a hermit. I enjoy a bit of space and quiet. I am one of those who find it easier to connect with God in silence and solitude.
But, today, I found myself thinking you can have too much of a good thing!
I suppose, this thought came from the fact that the isolation we are living in at the moment is different. The element of personal choice has been taken away by the coronavirus. If I chose, to break the rules and guidance, it would be an incredibly selfish thing to do, I would be putting others at risk.
This enforced isolation has left me with the feeling that, somehow, I have missed Easter this year.
It was strange not being in Church and taking part in the range of activities that we would normally do. It was strange not singing “Thine be the glory” with my Church family around me.
This morning I was reading a passage in John’s gospel. It is the one where Mary goes to the tomb and finds that the stone is rolled away. Jesus’ body is not there and Mary is devastated. In her loss, she has an encounter with somebody she, initially, thinks, is the gardener. You can read this passage for yourself in John 20 vs. 1 – 18.
As I read the passage, I found myself understanding Mary’s tears. Isolated from Jesus through circumstances beyond her control, life must have felt incredibly empty, devoid of meaning and her future was very uncertain. In her heart must have been a massive gaping hole that nothing would fill. All that stretched before her was isolation. Would life ever be the same again?
Let’s be honest, isolation is not easy. Stuck 24/7 within the same walls. There are only so many box sets you can watch or jobs around the house and garden you can cope with. If you have family members around you, there are only so many conversations you can have or games you can play. If you are on your own, the days can seem long and lonely.
It doesn’t matter how you are isolating, eventually, isolation gets to you.
It is into Mary’s isolation, that Jesus steps.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
(John 20 vs. 15)
It is a great question. At this point, I don’t think she really understood the resurrection. All she can see is her isolation. Her tears cloud her vision, and her heart aches within. This stops her from seeing Jesus. The very one who she was seeking was right in front of her.
As their conversation ends Mary realizes that isolation does not have the last word. No matter what, she will never be on her own again. Jesus is there, and brings hope to the isolated heart.
Today, if isolation is getting to you, don’t worry. It gets to everyone at some point. Can I encourage you to step back for a moment. Take a deep breath. Ask God to give you a glimpse of His presence with you.
Isolation does not have to be isolating.