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
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
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