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29 July 2020
Discovering what matters most
By Dean Clarke
Coming out of COVID-19 meant I could step outside. Outside of my safety zone. Outside of my comfort zone. Outside into the unknown. Outside into the new normal. Outside and back to my friends – although no hugging! Outside and away from myself – my thoughts, my head, my company, my boredom, my personal prison.
It is great to be outside again.
I couldn’t wait: To dine in a restaurant. To spend time with a group of friends. To watch a movie on a big screen. To spend time face-to-face with my friends rather than FaceTime my friends! To travel where I want, when I want.
It is great to be out again although, to be honest, I came out a changed person. I learnt a lesson or two in my lockdown.
I learnt …
Cooking can be fun, cleaning not so much. Being home more, I now have a few signature dishes, and I don’t mind it. But I wish someone else would vacuum.
Being creative is good for me. LEGO master I’m not, but I bought a train and some cars and created a little ‘city’. More importantly, I have a few grandchildren keen to visit and play with Papa’s LEGO, which has the added benefit of giving the adults coffee and chat time.
I was busy doing unnecessary activity. When I couldn’t do all my things, I discovered that not all of my things were really that necessary, important or life-giving. My busyness didn’t make me the healthiest. Moving forward, I’m not going to do everything I did but do what matters most.
Connecting with friends is important. While physically isolated, I didn’t really want to be socially alone. People rang me, and I rang others. Connecting with others, even just a little bit, makes life better.
I love my wife and we can spend time together alone. As good as this is, I still want it to be better. We have done four marriage-enrichment activities so far in our 35 years of marriage and I want to do another. The person I love dearest I wish to love deepest. So I will invest in our love.
Technology is my friend and a useful tool. I have children living 2000km away, but we can all be together and play a game on the internet. Now, when I ring people I want to see their faces when I call.
Putting together the lessons I’ve learned while in isolation and the things I want to do when I step outside, it is pretty easy to see the connection. Others. Physical isolation may have been necessary, but social disconnection is the hardest. And now that I am getting outside again, I want to spend time with others, which is why I’m looking forward to going back to church.
The Bible says that “God places the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6 New Living Translation) and through Jesus, I belong to the family of God. A family of people with whom I can celebrate and cry, live and learn with. As I get out, I’ve got a place and people to go to.
Coming out of COVID-19, I’m no longer alone. Although, I think that while ever I have Papa’s LEGO play city, I will always have a grandson wanting to visit!
Dean Clarke is a Salvation Army pastor in South Australia.