Waiting to die or to be raised?
Living in isolation, more or less, is particularly hard if memories of a previous time of abundant social contact, and happy contact often, become a constant reminder of the contrast in what was and what is. The attempt to take an interest in other things, study, creative activity (painting, writing, reading) is difficult without any ‘end product’ being discernable.
I am made acutely aware of the situation that so many people endure in societies globally and in particular here in England, and I am especially mindful of the isolation that older people experience. This ‘loneliness’ is perhaps harder to bear if one is living on a low income and more so if one is suffering from chronic depression. I think it is reasonable to suggest that such isolation may contribute to increased depression if not become the actual cause of depression for many.
The desire for social interaction (and maybe the simple reason that I am writing this) is strong, but one can easily become ambivalent about the prospect of social contact. Whether there is any real opportunity for being with others is another thing. The needs of the socially isolated are complex and become more involved as time goes on. The desire to be with others is opposed by the fear of being unable to successfully interact with others. One feels out of practice, and even unworthy, though this may be more to do with my own particular case.
The failure to develop regular and meaningful relationships leaves the isolated person without the normal support that we might take for granted. Simple activities, paying bills, dealing with authorities and even what to eat, are never shared; the only advice one has is ones own. Easter is indeed a time for rejoicing and the resurrection from death of Jesus is a great fact that fills us with gladness and thanksgiving. For the isolated person, though, it may also sharpen the contrast of how sparse ones existence truly is.
The Church is a vehicle for hope and it has been given a wonderful task, to declare The Resurrection of Jesus Christ anew to every generation. One issue that today’s Church of England, and others in the Anglican Community share, is the proclamation of that Resurrection to today’s world and today’s people.
The Samaritan, the leper and the prostitute were welcomed and blessed by Jesus. Today, we have the task of declaring welcome, on equal terms, to women, to all sexual orientations and to those whom society vilifies perpetually.
How will the Church declare the Gospel? To whom will it speak? Will it be able to do God’s work? Will it speak to everyone? If it does then how will it enact that Gospel? How will it welcome the isolated? Will it be generous and give the isolated bread, or will it keep it tightly locked up in the tabernacle, in its exclusive rites and laws, in its fear of popular villification? Do we hear the cock crow thrice still?