While I have been getting out of the house during the last year, I haven’t had a lot of interaction with people. I’ve mostly had quick trips to the grocery store, or trips to pick up things at church when I know nobody else is there. I think the longest interaction I’ve had with anybody outside the family was when I bought a car last summer. But the salesman and I would never recognize each other since we had masks on.
I've been hosting a Zoom gathering every other week for one of my embroidery groups. Yesterday’s gathering was on my calendar, and on the group's public calendar, and it had been listed in the newsletter.
But when I sent out an email last week listing upcoming activities, I forgot to list yesterday's event. I realized it late Monday afternoon and quickly sent out a notice about the gathering with the Zoom link.
It was short notice, and I wouldn't have been surprised if no one had shown up. But, 11 people showed up. Most of them have been regulars at these gatherings.
The gathering is called a "stitch-n-chat." Whether these events are in-person or over Zoom, there are some people who mostly stitch, and some people who mostly chat.
As I have listened to these ladies and gentlemen chatting, it’s obvious that they are starved for human contact. Some of them have literally not left the house since last March. They have groceries delivered, or a spouse does the shopping. Some have only been out of the house for medical reasons, some of them pretty serious medical reasons.
The stitch-n-chat is a way for us to share the projects we're working on, or items we've finished. But we also talk about what's happening with family members, books we’ve read, movies and TV shows we've watched, food we’ve cooked, orchids that bloomed, new dogs, new cats, grandchildren, and the other stuff of everyday life.
The isolation of the last year has put us all in our own wildernesses, and we welcome these opportunities to just have contact and conversation with other people.
On Sunday we heard the story of John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness. He came out of the wilderness to cry a specific message: that the Son of God was on his way.
The definition of a voice in the wilderness is "someone who is pointing out the dangers in a situation or the truth about it, but nobody is paying any attention."
John had to travel a long way from the desert of Judea to the Jordan River where he baptized Jesus. Somebody was listening to him along the way, since there was a crowd of people gathered to hear him when Jesus joined the crowd.
In the church year, January’s Baptism of Jesus ushers in the liturgical season of Epiphany. We celebrate Epiphany as a season of light. It’s the time of year when daily light in increasing. It’s a season of revelation of Jesus mission.
May some light shine in your individual wilderness this Epiphany season.
- Ann Iona Warner