Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
– Saint Teresa of Avila
Amongst friends there can sometimes be an understanding that some people are messengers and some people are callers! We probably all know people who will prefer to keep a chat going for hours or days, over and back via messages, while others will always make a quick call and want to chat directly. Whatever type of phone user you are, and whatever app or social medium you prefer, now is the time to really use your phone to keep up connections and to make sure people in your family and friendship circle are not socially isolated. I encourage you to pick up the phone, make contact with others and show them you are thinking of them. Written text messaging can be wonderful but during this time of physical distancing maybe sharing the gift of time and presence by having a real-time phone conversation will enrich and bless someone’s day.
I would encourage you to be conscious of someone’s circumstance and environment before you ring them. During this lockdown we think particularly of people living on their own or people we may know whose home situations or family dynamics are very difficult at the best of times. We also think of young people adjusting to a different lifestyle, especially those who may be anxious over their exams and future plans. We can think of many parents and guardians who are trying to manage finances and family responsibilities where the household income has been severely affected at the moment. We think of the stress for families where there is a person at home, in hospital or other care settings who has an underlying health condition and is particularly vulnerable to COVID 19. Most pertinently, I think of families where loved ones are working on the frontline in healthcare and emergency services, caring for others whilst putting themselves and their families at greater risk.
A phone call during this time of “Lockdown” might be the only connection with the Body of Christ that the person you are calling has at this time. Sometimes it’s not about what we say during a conversation, it’s about how we listen and acknowledge how people are feeling, remembering that the letters for “listen” are the same as for “silent”! There can always be the urge to fill an awkward silence, but perhaps allowing somebody space just to be, without interruption or interrogation, will allow them an opportunity to share what they are feeling in that moment.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Remembering that we are called to be Christ’s body here on earth, we might ask the person we call if they would like us to pray with them or for any special intention? You could encourage them to light a candle (if it is safe to do so) and have your own candle lit so that you can share in the Light of Christ as you pray together. You could offer to pray with the Scripture of the day if you have a bible to hand, or maybe there is a specific prayer that your friend likes to pray that you could say together. Again, it’s not about fitting into any exact structure, just let the Holy Spirit move and flow in your prayer and conversation.
During this time people we call may be carrying a lot of anxiety and worry in their hearts try so I would encourage you to be conscious of bringing the peace, joy and hope of Christ into the conversation rather than reinforcing worrying media messages or pessimistic outlooks on the situation. Maybe you could encourage the person to share any uplifting things they have experienced personally or heard of through the media.
“Anxiety weighs down the human heart but a good word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25
Just a few things to think of before you make that call…
• The person you are calling may have a daily routine. Are you calling in the middle of dinner, during children’s bed time routine or during the final episode of a marathon boxset session on Netflix??? If so, your call may not be well received! So I would suggest that when someone initially answers your call, ask them if it is a good time to chat? And if it is not, what time would suit them best for you to call back to chat?
• Be conscious that people may not have full privacy in their homes, they might be conscious of others in the household overhearing the conversation.
• Think of the person you are calling, their specific situation and what might be some of the challenges they face during isolation so that you can address them as you chat.
• Lastly, ask the person if they have enough phone credit? Many people just use top-up credit and may be very grateful to receive a gift of a surprise top up!
Do not underestimate the power of the simple phone call. It may seem like a small gesture but you may be the only person someone connects with today. Remember…
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
-Written by Cilla Farrell