Portrait by Ellen Marello
For nearly two years, those who work in theological education and ministry formation have learned what it is to teach and conduct our responsibilities via technology platforms that connect those who are physically separated.
The experience of being isolated from those we would normally see face-to-face in classrooms and in ministry is unsettling. In my experience it has also provided an opportunity to prepare students for ministry to people who spend much of their lives isolated, whether they are homebound, residing in an assisted living facility, or simply living alone in a world where the vulnerable often are neglected.
Our belief that the Lord is present to all, especially the vulnerable, reminds us that to be alone is not necessarily to be lonely. As those who – in the words of St. Paul – seek to be “ambassadors for Christ,” we have a duty to be formed into more compassionate witnesses to the Lord by our relatively rare experiences of isolation so that we may, in turn, be able to brighten the light of faith we find in those who endure isolation every day.
Whenever the COVID pandemic ends, may we remember its lessons about isolation – and kindly seek to relieve those who bear that burden.