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Is community always physical closeness?

I woke up early this morning with one question scrolling through my mind. How can we break through the barriers of social distancing and create a community of closeness? Is community always about proximity; being physically near one another? Or can we learn to develop a new layer of community without physical touch?

During the past few weeks as the corona-virus has swept around the globe and reached our local communities, I have had the opportunity to connect online with friends, young mothers, teens and some of the elderly in our personal social network. For some their concerns raise an element of fear, for others they are already experiencing loneliness, then there are those whose jobs and personal businesses have been totally put on pause.

Called to community

God calls us to unity and community which requires connection. Up till now we have had this community in our churches, our homes, around a meal in a restaurant, at a local coffee shop, or outdoors in nature at a local park or an outing with friends; but right now due to the severity of this spreading virus these activities with each other have stopped.

How can we quell the fear that has caused serious depression for those who struggle with anxiety? How can we be that touch point for those who struggle to be alone and find themselves fighting loneliness? How do we become community for one another when many are isolated in their homes? How can we become the hands and feet for those quarantined in their homes; yet still need groceries or have pharmaceutical needs?

New meaning to community

Most often community is thought of as a group of people who join together with a common bond, purpose or goal. For the most part this community can be done face to face, across from one another and most often in the same location.

Right now, during the outbreak of this virus we will need to look at community differently. If we don’t, we may give way to frustration, depression, anxiety, loneliness, or even anger.

Here a few practical ways that we can reach out over the walls of our home and minister community to one another. Maybe you have discovered other creative ideas that you can share!

Practical Community

  • Mail a card to encourage someone: Have your kids create the cards that you mail.
  • Drop off some groceries at a neighbor’s front door with a note of encouragement
  • Drop off a “sanity-packet” of fun kid’s things for a child to do during the long days of being out of school
  • Drop off a gift bag for young moms with soothing toiletry items, or chocolate is always appreciated!
  • Call a friend just to say “Hi” and see if they need anything.
  • Text a written prayer to a friend and tell them that you are thinking of them
  • Share links on Facebook Messenger for young mothers to involve children
  • Skype relatives, classmates and friends.
  • Use Skype, Facebook Messenger or other chat options to connect with friends around the world. They will appreciate that you thought of them as they are far from their passport country and families at such a difficult time.
  • Have your children play a game through Skype with a classmate or relative
  • Read a book to your grandchildren through face time
  • Drop off a virus protection packet to your neighbors whom you have never met. Introduce yourself through a card. (Hand sanitizer, roll of TP, can of soup, mac & cheese, frozen pizza, chocolate etc.)
  • Develop a book group. Chose a book, read and discuss it online.
  • On line Bible study group
  • Go through a local drive-through and get a meal for an elderly person in your sphere of influence. Call them and drop it at their front door with a note of encouragement.
  • Do art classes online with friends
  • Pray for one another: get your church directory or pray down through your FaceBook friends, family or relatives. Everyone has needs right now!

Find one simple way that you can encourage someone today. I would love to hear your creative ways of reaching out to others to create community during this time of isolation. With creativity we can hold each other up during these difficult days.

Today I received a bucket of flower bulbs from a special gardener who lives in my area. This past year she has shared her seeds and cuttings to help grow my garden and hopefully encourage my personal green thumb. This simple gesture reached into my home with something very significant and simplistic, community!

As I was writing this blog post I received this text from my daughter. “I made a wreath for our neighbor from some of the clippings of the tree in the front yard and put it on her porch, and then texted her to tell her it was out there. She just texted me back and said it was her dad’s birthday today and so it was really special to receive it today!”

A special significance about this wreath is that the house the vines came from, was this woman’s, father’s home! Her father passed away last year, so this was a sweet memory for her and a tender touch of connection and community!

Can you send a card, write a text of encouragement, drop off a bag of groceries, Skype a relative or face time a friend overseas?

Let’s begin to show a new level of closeness despite social distancing. Get creative! And let’s share ways that we can reach across our nation with a touch of community. Don’t let social distancing get you down! Find a way to touch someone else’s life today. It is often when we touch another’s life, that our life is significantly touched!

It is my hope that as one encourages another, true community will spread. May we all experience a renewed sense of hope that will sweep across our nation

You can become the start in seeing true community flourish!

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“The LORD will command His loving-kindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night. A prayer to the God of my life. “Psalm 42:8

 

LINDA JANE DINGELDEIN: DIFFERENT BY DESIGN

PHOTOGRAPHY BY LINDA JANE DINGELDEIN

Sonya’s Garden, Philippines

 

   

 

 

After twenty-five years as a missionary, Linda Jane is now entering a new ministry role as pastor’s wife; where she will serve alongside of her husband Joel, in Warren, Pennsylvania. The calling to serve Christ remains the same, as does her endeavor to reach women with the gospel message, and to teach them to live authentically out of who God created them to be. Linda's passion is communication through the spoken and written word, photography and illustration. She loves all things cultural, creative and colorful.

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