“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.”
Since the start of this pandemic, I’ve never doubted its existence or effects, but I will readily admit to going through some peaks and valleys of conviction that all the precautions are really necessary. After all, I’m young(ish), everyone in my extended family has been fine, my kids are in school and our local hospital has been in fine shape. It’s been hard to comprehend the threat when nothing and no one around me seems to be directly affected. Put on top of that constantly adjusting plans, Zooms galore, mask marks, and feeling like I perpetually smell like hand sanitizer, and you’re bound to ask the question at some point, "Is it all necessary?" This past week, a peer and good friend of mine from another part of the country texted to let me know he and his entire family tested positive. A few days later, he said he was having trouble breathing, and just as I sat down to write today’s reflection, I learned my friend was being rushed to the hospital. Suddenly the threat was a lot more real and the precautions made a lot more sense.
As I prayed for my friend and his family, I couldn’t help but reflect on the role proximity plays in our understanding of so many things in life, especially faith. We can know all sorts of facts and digest a tremendous amount of information, but at our core we are an experiential people. Our relationships, especially the closest ones, shape our experience. In fact, some of the most compelling research about evangelization suggests that people’s first step in seeking faith will involve a relationship of trust between the person and another person connected with the faith. We understand life through each other. We grow in understanding of God through each other. Who is in my proximity and how are they shaping my life and faith? More importantly, how am I helping others closest to me to understand the world around them? How is God more real to them because of their proximity to me? Whether we know them or not, let’s keep Jason and all those afflicted with any type of illness in our prayers and let’s work extra hard this week to ensure our efforts bring all of our hearts in closer proximity to the Lord.