Spiritual Distancing

19 Apr

Boy, was 2020 a year to remember and to forget! By most accounts we are still not out of the Covid woods as most states still want us to mask in public and keep our distance from one another. Keeping apart coined a new term for many of us–social distancing.

In my interpersonal communication classes we talk about the many ways that nonverbal communication will influence how we connect with others. Proxemics is a term to describe how we non-verbally use space and distance between us and others in our daily interactions. The term was coined by Edward Hall, a cultural anthropologist back in the 1960s. Generally speaking different cultures use space differently. In America we seem to prefer an arm’s length between us and another when we have a casual conversation. We shrink that distance for the special persons in our lives that we feel close to or feel a sense of intimacy with and that arm’s length measure is reduced. In some Arabic regions, the recommendation is to stand closely enough to another person to build and prove trust by feeling their breath in spoken interactions. Those simple *rules* have been toppled by Covid and we have been educated in new proxemics that tell us to stay further away from others.

This stirred some thinking for me. I began thinking of a new proxemic, that of spiritual distancing. Rather than separating ourselves from people, what about separating ourselves from God? We have been taught during the past year to distance ourselves from each other, but have we also distanced ourselves from God?

Countless scriptural accounts speak of events that turned people away from God.

Adam and Eve tried to avoid the eye of God once they shared an apple snack together.

In Noah’s time people turned away from God in such a degree that only God’s torrential rain would cleanse the situation.

Even in Jesus’ life during what Christians often refer to as Holy Week, the people praised God on one day and condemned God hours later.

I hope God has not felt separated / distanced from me. I hope I have not actually distanced myself from God, my creator, guide and friend.

I will continue my social distancing as required or as needed, but I will not be spiritually distant, for that would surely be a sad thing. If God feels a separation from me then I will surely feel the separation, too. Why in the world would I want to feel separated from the amazing goodness of God?

Psalm 73:28

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

Psalm 16:8

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Jeremiah 23:23

“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off?

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