A young father recently told me, “I am realizing that our family doesn’t need more vacations, we just need to spend time at home hanging out together and enjoying each other.” And my son drove home from Nashville last night and at our dinner table he proclaimed, “Wow, it’s so good to be with real people and have real conversation.” Yesterday more than 50 families drove their cars through the parking lots and driveway of the church campus on an “I Spy” parade where they got to wave at their preschool teachers and church staff members while spotting lady bugs and dragons. And a friend told me recently about a co-worker who stopped by her house to drop off a gift and even though they often clash in the office over politics and work style, now that have worked remotely for months, the co-worker was longing to give her a hug. There is something within us as human beings that longs to genuinely connect with other people.
Ironically, some folks are realizing that pre-pandemic we may have been scurrying about with lots of people and not actually connecting! We were not savoring leisurely dinners on the patio, long walks with a friend, evening movies with the kids, sidewalk chats with neighbors or Zoom connections with relatives across the country. Maybe we were with people all the time but we were actually “socially distancing” because we were not opening up from the heart and truly listening to the souls of one another. We were in the room but not fully present. Now that we are all six feet apart and wearing masks, could it be that now, more than ever, we are becoming vulnerable and more fully alive?
That is what seemed to happen at a well when Jesus stopped and asked a woman for a drink of water in the gospel of John. After they talked, she reported “he told me everything I had ever done” meaning that she finally felt understood by someone. He recognized her pain and challenges, and also her beauty and hope. He offered her “living water” which was not only to quench thirst but to share with her the intimacy of friendship.
Now more than ever, we are seeing how much our spirits need this holy connection. Call it friendship. Or call it spiritual connection. It is a mystery and a miracle that God somehow comes to us and connects. Now more than ever, I am grateful for the ways our live stream worship connects us with God and with each other. Now more than ever, I am grateful for the church which creates a space where we discover spiritual connections. Romans 8 says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Now more than ever, that seems true.