On Connections, Shared Humanity & Lizards
There is a lizard sitting opposite me on my back patio. It's a screened-in porch, to be precise, and the lizard appears to have made it her home. I'm assuming the lizard is a "she" because she seems to lack the pompous bit of skin under her jaw that the male of her species tends to inflate to reveal a startling pink flash of color.
The fact that she seems devoid of the pretension of lizard machismo is also something I'm imagining is present in her demeanor. At present, she is placidly watching me as she moves back and forth behind a potted plant.
It's not a bad world---the one she's occupied. There aren't any lizard predators, and it must seem pretty vast to her as she moves from plant to plant, hunting bugs and the like. It doesn't compare at all to the world outside the screens, but it's safe, secure, and comfortable.
And devoid of other lizards.
Honestly, I can't believe I'm actually thinking theologically about a lizard, but there you go. This is what happens when your world narrows. And since I've been limited a bit lately in terms of where I can go and what I can do (as have we all, am I right?), I'm identifying a bit with this lizard.
I imagine she could exist for the rest of her lizard life content here on this patio.
She might not find a smorgasbord of food in the kind of variety she would on the other side of the screen, but it would be enough. And there would be the safety of not being eaten by a bird, raccoon, fox, opossum, or other assorted predators, who enjoy lizards as a snack.
But there would be no other lizards.
I kind of wonder how long she would live without the contact of her own kind. I wonder if her instincts would drive her to find other lizards to the point that she would risk her seemingly Edenic surroundings in order to do so.
You see what I'm doing by now, right?
For the longest time, we have been forced into various forms of isolation. We limit our contact with others outside of our little pods. Some of us have felt it necessary to go to the extreme of cutting off contact with almost everyone we used to hang out with. Others of us have not had much of a choice in the matter.
And for a while, it was okay. Maybe we even welcomed it as a way to take a breath, to get some thinking done... to work on those projects we always wanted to finish. To get some peace and quiet.
But I daresay that most of us haven't really finished all those projects, and we've also started to wonder if we're spending too much time in our heads. And truth be told, we miss people. Even those of us who don't really like people all that much find ourselves going to the grocery store just to see them.
There's nothing wrong with feeling this way. It's just a sign for us that we were meant to be in community with one another. After all, at the beginning of the Genesis story from the Hebrew Scriptures, God laments the loneliness of the first human, and declares "It's not good for adam to be alone."
Also, you should know this, too: You can live in a houseful of people and be unbelievably lonely. Conversely, you can live by yourself and feel completely connected to friends and family.
And all of it, every single feeling (both the connected and the unconnected ones) is merely a signpost for something deeper within all of us...
We need each other. We are better together.
There will come a day when it will be safer to venture out of our secure isolation, and into a new world that is being birthed even as we speak. We don't know what sort of challenges it will bring. We have no idea whether it will be perfectly safe or not. We haven't a clue what it will look like.
But we can know this without a doubt... There are others with us on this journey. And we all share a connection that future generations won't understand completely. We will look back on this time in our shared history and be able to say, "We got through that. We're still here. And we were not alone."
Until that day of promise comes, stay strong and courageous. Reach out for help when you need it. Call someone when you need to talk. Go for a walk with a friend---even if you walk on opposite sides of the street. Gather when it's safe. And live in defiant hope of a day when "all will be well, and all manner of things will be well."
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.