Normal life in the last few weeks has been under great scrutiny, as leaders across the world wrestle with how best to deal with the outbreak of this disease, known to each of us now as COVID – 19. One of the things that this has brought to light is, actually how interconnected and interrelated we all are. Not just in one country, but right across the world.
So interconnected are we that we, perhaps until now, take for granted how many people we actually ‘encounter’ in everyday life. Of course, our family, our friends, our work colleagues, even those people we meet by chance encounter on the street or on public transport. Faced with the fact that this is now restricted or limited in some way is, of course daunting and perhaps brings to mind how important and valuable these ‘encounters’ are in our lives.
Encounters that make us part of a community, a collective, rather than isolated and alone. Encounter…such an important word. Something that is sown into the very fabric of life for each of us. A key question, faced as we are with these restricted personal encounters and problems, especially in this moment is, how will we respond? How do we respond when we encounter something that, for the most part, is completely beyond our control?
Perhaps a good starting point is to embrace the stark reminder we have in this crisis that, the ‘well of personal endeavour’, as much as we may emphasise it’s importance, is ultimately finite. It is in this context then, now more than ever, that we should look beyond ourselves and search for God. As St Paul once said “indeed He is not far from each one of us” (Acts: 17:27) at all times and in all places. As the world slows down, the fumes disappear from our cities and humanity faces one of it’s greatest challenges, perhaps we can reimagine our ‘encounters’ with each other and with God.