Alone, Together

I think one of the hardest aspects of quarantine has been feeling isolated, spiritually.

The absence of in-person worship has, quite honestly, left my heart feeling weary, as every week, it’s another online service, followed by another online service, followed by another online service.

It’s just not the same, when you’re “attending church” in the same phone app as where you look up vegan recipes or watch reviews on tech products.

Now, granted – I have been absolutely loving the weekly tradition my special gentleman and I have where we have dinner and “atttend” Fr. Mike’s online Mass. It has been so special to be able to grow in faith and relationship with him while the world is falling apart.

But aside from our little two person island, it feels as though we are in this faith vacuum, where it is just us and YouTube.

And that, is pretty discouraging. I mean, it’s been so long, it’s hard to even remember the feeling of singing in unison with my fellow body of believers as we worship freely together, unafraid of COVID contamination.

We were not created for isolation, but community. There is something so uplifting and encouraging about seeing other people, young and old, infants and elderly, all gathered in the same space for the same reason: to love and worship our Lord.

A foreign concept that, not to get political, but I feel the mainstream Godless media is all too gleeful to see get locked away in the dungeon of COVID restrictions.

But that feeling of spiritual isolation…perhaps you’ve been feeling it, too.

I’ve always believed that in times of unprecedented hardship, God will always pour out unprecedented grace. We just have to be a) open to receive it, and b) have our eyes open to recognize it.

Which is exactly what God has been doing with me here recently.

Knowing the discouragement in my heart, He has sent two overwhelming demonstrations that I am, in fact, not alone in pursuing Christ during this pandemic. And only right now, in this moment, am I realizing these beautiful affirmations for me.

Last weekend, my special gentleman and I were biking through the city, which is one of our favorite things to do together.

But we were biking down 14th street on the west side when, out of nowhere, there appears this huge line, wrapping all the way around the avenue. We’re talking probably close to two hundred people — all socially distanced, waiting in line with bouquets of flowers.

What in the world? We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Trader Joe’s doesn’t even have a line anymore, because everyone has either a) left NYC, or b) has hunkered down in their apartment.

I pulled my bike over for a second, pulled up my mask, and asked a woman what she was waiting in line for?

“For our Lady of Guadalupe,” she replied.

It turns out that that Saturday, December 12, was the feast day of our Lady of Guadalupe — which has great significance in the Catholic faith. All of those people were standing in line in front of Manhattan’s shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe, on 14th street in the Village. And they were bringing flowers to the altar, as is customary.

Biking away, I was just blown away at the sheer magnitude of people waiting in line. Earlier that day, we had biked past the Rockefeller Christmas tree, the Sack’s 5th Avenue Christmas windows, the Macy’s Christmas windows…that typically, at this time of year would be jam packed – standing room only. And yet, they were deserted. Literally not one soul was there admiring the Christmas decorations. And yet, here, on a cold and windy Saturday afternoon, hundreds of faithful Christians were out, waiting in their socially distanced line to humbly show respect to Jesus’ mother, and honor her.

It was such a beautiful sight that I am grateful to have witnessed.

Fast forward to today. As I have mentioned before, one of the ways I pay my bills is that I am a freelance writer and editor for a Christian campus ministry organization, and I was given an assignment to go through and edit and compile, literally hundreds of personal testimonies from young people, actively pursuing Christ and fellowship with one another during the pandemic.

These bright and faithful college students were sharing their struggles with feeling alone, feeling spiritually unmotivated, feeling overwhelmed, feeling scared at the abrupt transition from life on-campus, to being thrust back home to attend school online, while simultaneously trying to keep up faith, friendships, and fellowship from behind the bars of quarantine.

Literally, all day — for ten hours yesterday and ten hours today — I have been reading first-hand accounts from young people who, just like me, are strugging with that feeling of spiritual isolation.

I mean, isn’t God amazing how He always provides just what we need?

In those two instances, He sent me overwhelming affirmation and confirmation that I am not alone. I am not alone in feeling isolated, and I am not alone in my pursuit of Him.

Even though it may seem like I’m just anonymously clicking on a YouTube video, and worshiping in a vacuum with just myself and my special gentleman, the fact is, we are all in this together.

Though I am just a click of a video…I am one of millions of faithful Christians, who are doing their best to weather this quarantine storm and seek Christ’s face.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it can feel monotonous, or insignificant, trivial, unspecial, bare minimum, solo. But we can rest assured that God sees our hearts and recognizes our efforts, and He is right there with us, as we worship Him from our quarantine existence. As is the entire family of believers, each doing our own individual part, albeit from the confines of our own individual homes.

Though we may be alone, we are alone, together.

This is not forever. And I thank God for reminding me this, though a crazy line on 14th Street, and a random writing assignment for a bunch of ~virtual~ college kids.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

84 thoughts on “Alone, Together

  1. Perhaps see if your church offers any home fellowships. Perhaps you could start one? All states seem to have different rules. We have been meeting in a small group of about 8-10 people. We have worship and bible study or teaching video and some discussion. One thing to remember is the bible states we should NOT forsake the gathering of ourselves together. (Heb 10:24-26). We are designed for fellowship. This is why you feel the way that you do. It is contrary to your core design of being human. Attending group is like getting water after walking through the desert… it give you life.

    As usual, another great and honest post.

    1. that is a really great idea, M! those home fellowships are a terrific thought! I’m so glad you’ve been able to have that outlet! that is so great. you’r right – like getting water! thank you friend. Hugs and love xox

  2. This past Sunday I saw a glimpse of our congregation during the online service. There they were.. a lot of them..in the pews..wearing masks..singing.. and my heart just broke. Like you I want to be there so badly, esp for worship!! Down here in Florida everything is open, so it’s me who is too scared to go and I struggle with that deep in my soul.. I really do.

    1. Hi Cindy, thank you for sharing that. oh that is so great!! i feel you – evey one has a different comfort level! how nice to see the togetherness though! encouraging! Hugs and love xox

  3. Kinda missing my place of worship as well. Btw I love the bit where you say our eyes must be open to see it. It reminds me of a chorus “Open my eyes Lord we want to see Jesus” do you know it?

    1. Hi Kenneth! oh thank you, yeah i miss it too! i don’t know it!! but i know the song, Open the eyes of my heart lord! love that one! Hugs and love xox

      1. Oh yeah think it is a song not a chorus been away from church that long will have to check you tube that’s terrible 🤣

  4. Because I live in Texas I haven’t had to feel all that isolated. My church has been open since August and the Celebrate Recovery ministry I help lead has been, too. There has yet to be a case linked back to either. Most businesses have, with common sense restrictions, stayed open yet our infection rate is about the same as the rest of the country. I’m glad we have a governor who understands the need for community, relationships and fellowship…

    1. Thanks Rollie for sharing that. Oh that is so great to hear that you all have stayed open! oh my gosh that is so encouraging ! stay safe!! i agree — smart governor!! Hugs and love xox

  5. I was thinking pretty much the same. As someone who is heavily invested in spiritual community, this isolation is tough. I would say more than half of God’s commands in the Bible are meant to be done in a community. In the Sermon on the Mount, the first verses are mainly about the individual. The other 50 are loving God and others. 🙂
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    1. thank you friend, for sharing that. you’re right – it is tough indeed. You’re right! in community! such great insight, thank you! Merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  6. Thank you for this! It’s what I needed this evening. My 3 days on the road this week were very long. Today I crashed after keeping it going and not sleeping well in the hotel. The girls and I just got back from dinner where I was very quiet. I kept remembering so many Christmas’s past and ached for them. There was the Christmas Eve my best friend and I went to no less than 3 Christmas Eve services, crisscrossing town to hit all those services, ending with a midnight service. Another time the weather was so cold that the car’s heater not got warm the whole 7 miles to church!

    One year I wrote produced, directed, and acted in a Christmas play for my church. I can recall a few people seeking out pastor after for some intense conversations. It was very rewarding.

    So, yeah, that isolated feeling is creeping in here too. My world suddenly expanded with your writing tonight, seeing that long line to the church and hearing about all those people writing about their isolation. I thank God for you and the community you’ve pulled together here at BBB. I pray your Ohio time is as rich and rewarding as you’ve longed for. Be well, my friend. Give your mom my regards.

    1. Hi Jeff!! Oh good – I’m so glad it hit home with you. Gosh, I can only imagine how exhausting!! I’m glad you’re back safe and sound. Oh wow, what memories!! And how awesome about the Christmas play!! It really is wild how different this Christmas is going to be. Different, but uniquely special in its own quiet way. Aw, thanks for saying that. Yeah, I am definitely very grateful for the friends I’ve made through this little blog! And your friendship is definitely one of the blessings I’m most thankful for!! Thank you for the prayers 🙂 tomorrow I can finally enjoy being home, as I’ve been immersed in a writing assignment from wake up to eyes shut since I got home on Monday. So I’m excited to be able to spend some quality time with my parents!! Enjoy your time at home! Bed always feels so much more cozy after time in a hotel!! I certain will. Hope you and your girls are enjoying this quiet lead up to Christmas!! Hugs and love xox

      1. Oh yes! i certainly hope so! we’re getting ready to bake some christmas cookies now! Hugs and love xox

  7. The Lord is never far from any one of us and is present in the smallest of groups .Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:19.20). Stay strong BBB you are never alone! Be Blessed.
    Julia

    1. Thank you Julia! You’re so right about that – He is always with us. That’s a very comforting and encouraging verse! Thanks for sharing! Hugs and love xox

  8. So many different orientations to worshiping over the years: solitary hermits, house churches, mass gatherings, country churches with attendance you can count on two hands and feet, cathedrals filled or empty with mass conducted several times per day, personal devotions. It does not matter, in my opinion, whether the government tells us what method of worship is dangerous at this time, or the media appears to relish in some told-you-so elitism, if one form of worship is exposing people to undue risk, we might adapt to some other method for a while. I believe that one of the strengths of Christianity has been its ability to adapt to different people, styles, cultures, etc. – Oscar
    P.S. I grew up in California where Lady of Guadeloupe had a large following.

    1. Hi Oscar! You’re right – there are so many different ways to worship and each is just as beautiful as the next! Yes! It’s adaption is a strong suit! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh wow, that’s a great idea Alice! Thank you for that!! Sounds like an awesome compromise and way to visit Jesus safely! Hugs and love xox

  9. For several months, Minnesotans were worshipping from home. Thankfully we are allowed to meet together again, though with precautions in place. Some choose not to. I agree with those who suggested that you could try a home group, if that is allowed. We did that for awhile, and it was a huge blessing.
    All of this isolation has brought the persecuted church to the forefront of my mind. I have been moved to truly pray for them with more diligence than ever before. If anyone knows the isolation, it is they. I’m so grateful the Lord is with us always.
    Thank you! God bless you.

    1. Hi Linda! Oh that’s great that you’re allowed to worship again! Great idea about the home group. Definitely sounds like a huge blessing. Amen – prayers I believe go an extra long way!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh thank you! I can’t wait to check it out and pass it along!! 🙂 thanks again, I’m truly honored. God bless!

  10. You have a wonderful way of expressing what many of us are experiencing and then putting it in context which shows us how God continues to work in each of our lives, and never leaves us. May you continue to grow in faith and I pray that you will have a blessed Christmas with your loved ones.

    1. aw, Andrew, that is kind of you to say. thank you, my friend. You’re right- God is always working! thank you! i pray you and yours ahve a beautiful christmas as well! Hugs and love xox

    1. oh wow, so powerful. thank you for sharing that, Madeline! i will be putting this on repeat! Hugs and love xox

    1. Hi Hettie! oh that is so wonderful! I’m so glad that this year brought you closer to the Father! how terrific!! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you JB! hahahah oh my gosh you are too funny!!! and kind! thanks for saying that, my friend. you always bring a smile to my face! Hugs and love xox

  11. I love this post. I felt something similar but in my solitude, in my grief. I found God and a stronger bond with God and my beloved Patricia.. Pat and I loved each other and were ONE with each other there really was no one else for either of us except the LOVE of Christ! Pat and I were very aware of our unfolding love for each other and God; still are! Every morning we woke up together into our love. It is still there even though she is on the other side of the door. The door is not locked. Just yesterday something changed; just the day before I felt empty and alone. I now felt contended and full. I had found my beloved Pat deep within me again. I had a deep sense of knowing her – feeling her permission to be myself again. Yes, God joined us together as One forever and there can be no others. As she wrote there could be no other except Christ – God and US. Yes the isolation of Covid and the lack of real Church services is hard without Patricia alive and by my side. But there is comfort in Christ. We, Pat and I, wait for the time we can take Communion again side by side at the alter rail and sip from the common cup. In the meantime Patricia and I are One, wine in the Common Communion Cup forever!
    “Two people who have lived their separate lives decide to share those lives. Everyone knows the process is difficult, like crushing grapes to get the juice. But over time those raw and untested lives take on new complexity and richness, due to the sharing and the struggle. Like grape juice turning into wine, the lives ferment in an alchemy that transmutes the two from people trying to get along individually to a couple discovering the deep mystery of a shared life. ” — Thomas Moore, ‘ Writing in the Sand

    1. Oh wow, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful response! I’m so glad that this has brought you closer to God and your beloved Pat. That is just so beautiful. Reading about your love for her, and your love for each other brings my heart so much joy. Wishing you a joyful and peaceful Christmas season! Hugs and love xox

  12. The line waiting to give flowers to Our Lady of Guadalupe …heart warming and inspiring. Our Mother draws us to her Son … Covid or no Covid, through Covid, inspite of Covid, despite Covid or because of Covid. 💖
    I enjoyed the post. God indeed provides us what we need. “All I have need Thy had hath provided … great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.” 💖 🥰

    1. thank you so much! yes! i was so inspired to see everyone out there waiting to honor her! thank you for your kind words! merry christmas! Hugs and love xox

      1. Merry and blessed Christmas to you too. My Christmas is not so merry – lost my mum six months back and missing her like crazy – but I pray it will be holy.

      2. Oh gosh, friend. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. May you find peace this Christmas knowing that your mother is with our loving Father, and most comforting and welcoming, Jesus, and that one day we will all be reunited again in Paradise. Sending the biggest hugs and love. Hang in there xox

      3. Thank you friend. Finding peaace … and am finding that the vacuum will be filled with His Love. penned something on it … and peace came to me whilst writing. Thats what writing does huh. Much love and blessings to you too …

      4. Writing is so therapeutic!! It’s been a source of real joy and peace for me too!! Hugs and love xox

  13. Reading your post and through the comments of everyone longing for a “more intimate” connection with God it reminded me of what I read earlier this morning.
    It was about C.S. Lewis who once was an athesist. When he became a Christian he said this,
    “Lewis insisted that he was no more seeking God than a mouse seeks a cat. But God was seeking him. And he responded, he submitted, and the rest (as they say) is history.
    We must always remember that the impulse to think about God comes from him, and that the desire to discover truth and beauty and reality is born from him. Jesus said, “People can’t come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me” (John 6:44). The Lord said through Isaiah, “People who never before inquired about me are now asking about me. I am being found by people who were not looking for me. To them I have said, ‘I am here!’“ (Isa. 65:1).

    Even the great prophet Elijah had a moment when he felt alone in service to our Heavenly Father God.

    I hope anyone reading this realizes that any hunger and thirst for “intimacy” with God is a gift from Him. Praise your dear Heavenly Father for His presense at these times.

    1. Hi Tony! oh wow, thank you so much for sharing that. isn’t CS Lewis’ story so powerful and inspiring!! You’re right – God seeks us, and we must answer that call. The intimacy with Him is lifechanging!! have a very merry christmas! Hugs and love xox

  14. After nine months, this isolation (due to our age and my husband’s health) is getting old, that’s for sure. I’m so thankful for all the virtual ways we can stay connected, which helps greatly. But we look forward to returning to our church family–in person. I’m thinking I won’t bother with make-up that Sunday–I imagine I’ll just cry it off!!

    1. Hi Nancy, thank you for sharing that. I’m right there with you! I too am so pumped to be back and be able to worship in person! Haha right! Happy tears! Hugs and love xox

  15. God created us to be social people. We need other people. God said so himself when he created Eve saying-“It is not good for man to be alone”

    As Christians we need each other. We need fellowship. Doing so in Zoom or online services is okay but cannot replace being together in the same place.

    But even during COVID, we are never truly alone. If we believe in Jesus, Jesus and the Father make their home with us. 😉

    1. You’re right about that! Social people indeed! That was such a simply yet profound statement – and has been exemplified this year in 2020! Amen to that! Hugs and love xox

  16. I never realized that they still kept churches closed due to the pandemic. Such a shame, but I saw one of the first comments on here about people can get together on Sundays for a little gathering, depending on what the city allows.

    Still a lot of people are traveling due to the holidays. I’ve been getting into a lot of old, abandoned vehicle revivals on YouTube this past year and was interested in going to Power Tour in Joliet, IL but they canceled about a month before it was about to begin. Would have met some interesting people but this pandemic changed that.

    Anyways you gotta come up with creative ways to come together so theres a way.

    1. Yeah, it’s been really sad! You’re right. We’ve got to get creative about Sunday’s! And cool! There is so much interesting content o. YouTube! Hugs and love xox

  17. Thank you! God used your writing to show me something important today. 2020 has been one of my best years with God (I know, strange right). We will keep you in our prayers! Be blessed, today and always ♥️

    1. Oh gosh, thank you so much Bernice! I am humbled to have placed a small role in God’s plan for you today! That’s amazing! God Is good! Thank for the prayers! Know that you’re mine too! Hugs and love xox

  18. I miss my church also. So excited that we are going to do a Christmas Eve service outside. It will be very short (going to be very cold here in Michigan) but we will at least be able to sing together – at a distance – and wave to one another.

    1. As, thank you Shannon!! You’re right – with God we are never ever alone! Hugs and love xox

    1. Yes! That’s so true, Ian! Our closest friend, and miracle of Christmas! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  19. I never thought I’d find a day I’d be attending church online. It acres me that I’m getting used to it. I love that God is showing and confirming your faith in real life. Merry Christmas 🎄

    1. Isn’t it wild?! Yeah I feel you there. It has become all too “comfortable” to go to church in sweats on the couch. Thank you friend. And merry Christmas to you too!!! Hugs and love xox

  20. I enjoy your writing so much! Having read you for the last 2 or 3 year, I am inspired by your growth in Christ!!

    Loved every smidgeon! This was a particular favorite: “We were not created for isolation, but community. There is something so uplifting and encouraging about seeing other people, young and old, infants and elderly, all gathered in the same space for the same reason: to love and worship our Lord.” — AMEN!!

    God bless!!

    Peach

    1. Hi Peach! Oh my gosh you’re so kind! Thank you! I am seriously so touched. Amen – we are created for community! Glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  21. The serendipity of the universe is an amazing thing. I firmly believe God is not a genie: not there for our whims and every shallow urge. But I find it amazing how things align to help us, to give us what we need, when we really need it. To me, that’s God. The bits and pieces in life that help you grow, that help you find your way when it seems like you’re getting lost.

    1. Hi Em! Thanks so much for sharing your heart. You’re right – He is always working things together for good!! So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  22. You will get through this! I seriously thought about writing a post on this exact topic. In AZ we AREN’T forced to stay home, but when the quarantine first hit we were overwhelmed by the spirit of fear we received from the church. But God is faithful, and like Elijah we were shown just how many others still served Him! I’ve been praying for you for years, and I am so so glad you have someone that is by your side in all of this!

    1. Thank you so much Yael for sharing you’re heart. You’re so right – God is faithful and we will get through this together with Him! Hugs and love xox

  23. I miss going to church, but realize I value the health of my community enough to not attend large gatherings. I guess I am classic Jesus, not Republican Jesus.

    1. Me too Peter. Thanks so much! Yeah I agree – I definitely value the health of the community too. Hence why I haven’t been since March!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you so much Carole! Amen to that!! And same to you! Merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

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