“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:1-2
This week the word “distant” seems to be haunting me. I have noticed it more than in previous weeks. I got a devotional from Chuck Swindoll about “Distant and Absent”. Facebook provided a new button for “loving in the distance”. A friend of mine sent me a quote from one of my favorite authors, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, saying “Distance is not the problem. The problem is us, human beings, we don’t know how to love without touching, seeing or listening. Love is felt in the heart, not in the body.”
Distance is not fun. Looking back at my life, there has been distance everywhere.
I grew up without grandparents. They were distant –in another continent, along with many other relatives. I got married and had a family distant from my original family and friends. My kids have also grown with grandparents they can visit only two weeks every year. Physical distance deprives us of physical love, but it doesn’t deprive us of real love.
We are mourning the lack of physical contact thinking we are lacking love, but that’s a perception of reality we get when we focus on ourselves.
Being distant is different than being absent. There cannot be absence where there is love. Love is presence, because God is love. And He is omnipresent.
His Holy, loving presence shows up in the many ways he cares, comforts, and provides for us. In the same way our love for others can be present in many ways during the pandemic: acts of kindness, food donations, mask donations, front yard waving, stuffed animals in windows, phone calls, Zoom calls, mailed cards, emails, gift cards, egift cards, favorite songs, chalk drawing, coloring pages, silly dances, board games, puzzles, intimate conversations, prayers. Love is presence, when we give our most valuable thing: time. Time and intentional attention, to God and to others.
Paul was distant from the Philippians when he wrote this letter. But his greeting showed his deep love by lifting them up as holy people, and asking for them the divine gifts of grace and peace. This is love felt in the heart.
That’s my prayer for you my friends, may you receive today God’s grace and peace.