I look out the double windows this evening at sundown, while wiping down the kitchen counters from a late supper.
Noticing Husband out by the road, talking to an unrecognizable couple and their dog, I am drawn to the over-sized glass on our entryway door.
Pausing for a moment, I take stock. Who is this? Why the conversation? Ordinarily, this would draw little attention from anyone in our house, but on this night, a night beginning three weeks of social distancing, it catches my attention. And my daughter’s.
“Who’s dad talking to?” my youngest asks.
“I don’t know, “ my response, as I crane my neck.
Later, when Husband has returned to the house, the dog still barking at the passers-by heading back down the road, sun going down, it hits me yet again:
We are hard-wired for this. For connection.
We long for it. Indeed, yearn that we might have it.
As little as a chat. A text. A telephone conversation. That’s all.
A touch, a hug, an intimate embrace. They will suffice.
Connection. It starts with reaching out.
Henry Melvill (1855) said that we never only live for ourselves. Rather, “a thousand fibres connect” us…one with another.
”And along those fibers, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects.” (Melvill, 1855)
I don’t know about you, but I feel fibers are already being created in this new era of our world’s history…
*they are woven strands that reach from my house to the passers-by.
* woven by strands that connect me to dear friends still travelling, hoping to return.
* woven by strands that connect me to my dear mom and dad, who are vulnerable and largely housebound.
* woven by strands that connect me to my mother-in-law under the protective measures of social isolation.
*woven by strands that connect me to friends, family, colleagues, and others.
Strands formed through the wonders of technology: a luxury afforded us in this day and age, so that we might never feel completely alone. Strands formed through the wonders of simple, everyday encounters. We have but only to take the initiative and reach out.
And reach out, we must.
A little girl came up to me today in the grocery store and enveloped me in a bear hug. It felt, all at once, both wondrous and strange, in this new era of distancing. It warmed me to my bones. I found her holding on longer than one usually would, and I hoped she would feel my care for her, in the returned embrace. But this simple human gesture left me also remembering this:
We are hardwired for this.
Hardwired for touch, talk, relationship. And we must find ways to stay connected, via those invisible strands Melvill (1855) so aptly described, above.
We need it, now more than ever.
For the well-being of our community and the well-being of ourselves.
All it takes is one move, one small gesture.
The rest will follow.