“Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.”
- Anais Nin
I read recently about how separation is what leads to anxiety. It was in the context of a new born baby, now harshly removed from the soft comfort of its mothers womb, but the concept pertains to all forms of separation. As humans we have a spiritual hunger and desire to be united with God/The Divine/ something other than ourselves. This and longing for that connection is what pulls at our soul. Religion often fails to acknowledge that hunger or adequately fulfil it, but where regimented religions may fail, mysticism prevails, and we have much to learn about connection with the divine, from the mystics. Daily meditation and prayer are the cornerstones of a spiritual practice that can fulfil you, as it did them. And you don’t need to be having visions like Hildegard of Bingen, or levitating like St. Teresa of Avila, to experience a wonderful, exuberant union with God.
The last few days when I have been out for my daily walk in the park, I have noticed how increasingly busy it is getting and how, despite the warnings, people are starting to interact again and ignore the rules. This is obviously worrying, but it made me reflect on how essentially we as human beings are social animals, and connection fundamental to our need to belong. It gives us a purpose and meaning and without it, isolation can lead to loneliness, anxiety and depression. Although the world may indeed become very different after lockdown, I don’t believe strict social distancing rules are realistic in the long term for society. We may have more people working from home, more children being homeschooled and more awareness around the physical nature of our interaction, but ultimately people need people and we do need face to face interaction, along with physical touch. Not being able to hug a friend, or pat someone’s dog who comes running excitedly up to greet you, creates a sense of withdrawal from the world and ultimately from life. That in the long run is simply not healthy for the individual and society as a whole. It will lead to dysfunction.
The bottom line is we were not born to be separate - whether from our fellow human beings, the wonders of nature around us, or God/The Divine itself.