At my recent Medicare annual wellness visit, I was struck by how many times the nurse assistant and then my doctor came back to the issue of how I am socializing in the midst of this pandemic. After the doctor and I had a conversation about how COVID-19 has caused so much isolation of people and its effects, she shared with me something that was very heart-wrenching for her. She works part time in an Alzheimer’s unit, and was telling me about how those poor folks agonized over not having family visits. She said she can explain about COVID-19 over and over, but they forget five minutes later. The word she kept coming back to was that these folks feel so very abandoned, and how that was affecting them not only emotionally and mentally, but also physically.
As I reflected on this conversation on the drive home and many times since that doctor visit, what kept coming back to my mind was Jesus’ anguished cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken [abandoned] me?” (Matt 27:46). Perhaps for the first time I had a visceral understanding of the depth of Jesus’ cry. Matthew then tells us Jesus gave up his spirit — he gave himself over to death. He was alone. Yet, so willing to be faithful to the very end to his saving mission. He was doing this himself. For us.
We are all experiencing weariness and dreariness in the face of this pandemic. We want it to be over. But let’s use this time well. Let’s use it to reach out to others. In giving respite to another’s isolation, we will find that we are relieving our own. Jesus spent his abandonment to save us. Let us spend our isolation to be present to others. There are so many opportunities.