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The importance of connection

Andy Hamilton SJ

ANDREW HAMILTON SJ reflects on the importance of connection to maintain wellbeing during COVID-19

Not so long ago if we spoke of friends who were connected, our hearer would assume that they had influential friends, or they were all wired up. Handy things to have, but not essential. In the time of coronavirus, however, we would be taken to mean something deeper about them as human beings. The virus and its effects on our daily lives have unscrewed the connections that are

part of our identity, our happiness and our resilience. Social distancing affects the touch that is so important in our relationships. Masks muffle the words and muddy the non-verbal signs through which we read one another. Lockdowns of workplaces and houses eliminate the games, the work, the means to pay our bills, the casual meetings and little rituals that give meaning to our lives. We risk becoming disconnected from other people, from society and from our deeper selves.

Many people, including those with whom we work at Jesuit Social Services, are particularly vulnerable because their connections are already fragile. The erosion of daily routines and opportunities for social gatherings and meetings with friends caused by the virus can increase the anxieties and other afflictions that already make it difficult to connect with society. It is doubly important for us to find ways to accompany them in this testing time when our staff members themselves are stretched. Lack of connection is a human affliction that calls out for human remedies. For both ourselves and for the people we serve, such small gestures as phone calls, emails, messages, shared hobbies, small donations and other generous actions deepen our connections. They help us enlarge our own hearts so that we can hold others in them.