This pandemic leaves us with a heightened appreciation for what was once “normal” that far too often we didn’t realize to be so precious. 

Lois is a friend we encounter walking in our neighborhood. Lois is a hugger. Before the pandemic it was not uncommon for her to smile and ask if it was okay to hug. Now as we meet and greet we give one another a “virtual hug.” She recently penned a beautiful birthday card to me for my 80th birthday. In the warmth of her words I experienced a spiritual hug that fed my soul! Lois reminded me that we don’t have to just physically hug. As a matter of fact, her spiritual hug meant more than the physical hugs we had before the pandemic. It was anything but virtual.

The pandemic crisis provides us with opportunities to extend ourselves to experience what Lois taught me in a myriad of other ways.  We human beings have a tremendous ability to adapt to new challenges in innovative ways. So many of us have become lonely in our social distancing. Students of the human psyche [soul] have found that developing the ability to replace loneliness with solitude nurtures the soul. Loneliness is an undesirable state of aloneness. We can even be lonely around others. Loneliness feeds depression and the tendency to beat up on ourselves. Solitude is a desirable aloneness and can actually provide relief to depression, anxiety and perhaps even enhance physical wellbeing.

Lois blessed my soul with empathy and affirmation. Both of these gifts also have a tendency to neutralize the pangs of loneliness in that someone has visited our soul and touched it with a lingering presence. Out of our longing for what was “normal,” let us bless others and be blessed by them birthing new connection with our soul and the souls of others.

By: Jim Rentz

DMin, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Army Chaplain Vietnam