LETTER: 'Restless souls' seeking comfort during pandemic

The Rev. Elizabeth Polanzke
Thousands rally to reopen Pennsylvania in front of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Monday, April 20,2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Prior to the latest pandemic, I had grown concerned about the ever increasing isolation of people. Between cellphones and social media, one hardly engaged another face-to-face. And now the pandemic. Physical distancing has truly become social distancing.

As sorely misguided as the most recent “OpenPA” demonstrations were, I find I still understand and have compassion for their point of view. This is more than businesses resuming their work or getting a hair-do. These folk are the teeming free masses longing to hold and be held. To see and be seen. Facebook, Skype, FaceTime and Zoom are not enough. Answering phone surveys is not enough. 

Attending the demonstration with the face mask off at the risk of death and illness is to say “See me!” “Hear me!” “Recognize me!” It is the soul’s deepest longing to have its existence validated by another. Once recognized and valued, the soul feels at home.  And isn’t that what we all want? To feel at home, again?

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The apologist Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord.”  We are restless souls these days, and that drives us to seek a restoration of a peaceful home. That is the normalcy we seek. It can be measured by economic security, but also can be found in a restful spirit.

This time at home can provide time for the spiritual growth that makes us feel at home in a shaken and chaotic world. Clergy of all kinds, experts in the spiritual journey, are providing free online resources via social media, the telephone, email and USPS. Spiritual curiosity is a path toward home with God, humanity and the unity of spirit we need to console, comfort, support, give and encourage one another, not only now, but always.