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The value of isolation from a religious context
Joy Fan, Logos Editor
People are social creatures. Yet, by late March, people were thrown into a world which had gone online. Things we were used to and took for granted — seeing friends, going to work or class, eating out — suddenly became luxuries that society could not afford. Isolation had become the new norm.
Suddenly, people had the time to delve into new or forgotten hobbies – knitting, reading for fun, and cooking. Baking became so widely loved that flour was being sold out. Home workouts skyrocketed in popularity. Zoom went from an app I had never heard of to one that I mentioned daily. Self-love became more important than ever as people felt lonely in isolation.
As lockdown drew out longer than originally expected, everyone started to feel the weariness, caused by isolation, more widely. Many of my friends felt hopeless and out of touch with God. I also felt the disconnect. Regular worship was reduced to a black screen lacking the same choral sound I loved so much. Zoom calls, while better than nothing, started to feel like pulling teeth. I used to centre my faith around my church and the people in it more than I had originally realized.
The Bible discusses isolation and being alone. When God creates Eve, the reasoning is “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Hebrews 10:25 reads “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”. Christians are encouraged to meet and draw close to one another. Social interactions, Christian or otherwise, are important to people.
Yet the Bible encourages us to do more than just to gather. There are various examples of biblical characters being isolated. Joseph in the book of Genesis is unfairly thrown into prison. Despite this Joseph is not alone for “the Lord was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2). Jesus spends 40 days and nights in the desert alone. Isolation serves as an important trial which reminds us of the root of our faith and teaches to appreciate our blessings more. When you are left alone without the distractions of the world, you are given the opportunity to see what matters.
My own isolation meant I needed to reflect on how I experienced and practiced my faith. I had relied too heavily on socialization with other people, and isolation pushed me to read the Word more. It pushed me to pray more and strengthen my own relationship with God.
Regardless of faith, isolation serves as a path forward. In Buddhism, meditation and isolation are greatly important and are a significant part of reaching enlightenment. The biography of Gautama Buddha describes him sitting under a tree in meditation determined not to rise until he reaches full awakening. Isolation provides an opportunity to evaluate your life and your faith. This current isolation is not our choice — but it is our choice how we react to it.