Before COVID, how often did you use the word ‘virtual’?
Rarely did I use or say ‘virtual’ before the pandemic hit last year. Now it is as common in my conversations as laundry or groceries.
We work virtually. We play virtually. We meet virtually. We teach virtually. We learn virtually. We celebrate virtually. We grieve virtually. We comfort virtually. I am grateful we have been able to work through the pandemic – thanks to email, Dropbox, Google Chat, Zoom, FaceTime, etc. In some situations, virtual has been easier than in-person meetings, but it is not my first choice.
My son Matt has an Oculus virtual reality headset. It’s hilarious watching him (and his family) play – especially when I can’t see or hear what he is seeing and hearing. This pic is of my grandson Lincoln. I’ve been told the games feel very life-like even though they are virtual.
Games aside, I am tired of virtual. I am tired of screens. I crave human interaction. I am a weirdo and get filled up by being with people. I like hugging people and sitting together at church, ball games, birthday parties, etc. My grandkids need to be in real life, in person school. I don’t want them to grow up thinking mask-wearing, avoiding people and social distancing are all normal. I want to hug, comfort and grieve with loved ones who have lost someone. I want to gather with people in real life, in-person.
Some of you may think I am being self-centered or selfish but I contend that God did not create us to be isolated from one another – to be fearful of getting too close to one another – to hole up in our homes – or to avoid people. The longer this way of life continues, the harder it will be to go back to in depth personal interactions. I’m finding it difficult to meet new people in Arizona because of the pandemic restrictions. It’s especially hard to get to know someone while wearing a mask and staying 6′ apart. Mumbled conversations because of the masks are not fun. I find myself repeating, “What did you say?” or “Pardon me?” or “Could you repeat that, please?” Sheesh. It is tiring and sad. I am happy for some nearby younger people who are willing to hang out with us older folks. I don’t know what I would do without them.
So, what is the point of all of this chatter? I don’t know. Except I choose real life over virtual life any day. I’m looking forward to spending time with dear friends next week. We’ve been meeting virtually for months and I can’t wait to see, hug and hang out with them in real life.
May we find ourselves engaged more in real, in-person life and wean away from virtual life as much as is reasonably possible. May we sense God’s presence as we meet together because “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20