Schools, community events, daycares, churches, libraries it seems like everything is closed as we’re told to practice “social distancing”. Social distancing means minimizing close contact with others in the community. However, this does not necessarily mean complete isolation. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends isolation only for individuals who display symptoms and are suspected to have COVID-19 or for those who are at high risk of exposure and/or high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (such as older adults or those with chronic underlying medical conditions). If you want to read more recommendations from public health, their website is a good place to start*. All that is to say that while we find many of our social institutions and meetings cancelled, community is not.
Should we avoid crowded spaces? Yes. Should we stop holding large gatherings? Yes. Should we practice careful hygiene like hand-washing and frequently cleaning high-touch surfaces? Definitely. But we should not stop living in community with one another. What that looks like might change over the next few weeks and months as we await the direction of healthcare professionals, but that just means we need to get a bit creative. Here’s some ideas to get you started:
Remember the isolated individuals. Don’t forget about your single neighbours and friends, about single parents and the widowed. Check in with those who may feel especially isolated during this time.
Invite them over for meals or a conversation
Drop off meals and supplies at their home
Send texts, emails and letters
Host huddles. Although the numbers vary, most public health guidelines say that small gatherings of healthy individuals are acceptable. So don’t be afraid to invite neighbours or church members over for a meal, Bible study or conversation.
Host a group of people to participate in online church together.
Host your own home church where you pray and discuss Scripture together.
Have a movie night or organize an afternoon outdoors.
Celebrate Easter. The truth is we don’t know how long we’re going to continue practices of social distancing, and it seems likely that our well-structured and long anticipated Easter plans will take a hit. However, Easter is not cancelled. As Christians we know that the heart of Easter is the truth that Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again! So let’s live in ways that demonstrate the peace, generosity, love and hope of Christ to everyone we encounter.
Share your resources of food, household supplies or offer people a ride.
Host a small-scale Easter breakfast or sunrise service in your home, yard or park.
Offer comfort and encouragement to those experiencing anxiety, loneliness and mourning.
In a season of confusion, anxiety and cancellation, reach out to one another in ways that remind us that community exists on the small-scale and no matter what stops, we are called to continue being people of faith, hope and love (1 Cor. 13:13).
*Public Health Agency of Canada: COVID-19: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/public-health-measures-mitigate-covid-19.html#cbm