The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. Psalm 145:18
In our reflections, it is usually the gospel or epistle that receives the greatest focus. After all, one of the words of our Lord, the other, voices from the early Church. But this month my eye was caught by one line from Psalm 145: “The LORD is near to all who call upon him.”
In this time of social distancing, being near to someone can seem dangerous. I’ve noticed how people give each other greater space when passing in the stores or streets, often well beyond the required six feet. It can feel awkward to stand or even walk closer these days. Many people I’ve spoken to miss the closeness of others. And here in California, many of us have been driven inside due to the smoke from the wildfires, which has put even greater restraints on meeting and greeting our friends and neighbors.
And yet, when I was recently walking around others in a store (at an appropriate distance from everyone else), I found myself spontaneously blessing and praying for them. Although I was physically distancing, in some ways I felt closer to these strangers. We are all in this together. And God is with us as well. Later in the gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us, “The kingdom of God is in your midst.”
Consider these two thoughts together: “God is near us when we call upon Him,” and “The kingdom of God is in our midst.” Perhaps the space we are keeping between us can help us see what has been here all along. In my youth, there was a time when I went through a crisis of loneliness. My spiritual director reminded me, “God is closer to you than your jugular vein.” We can often lose sight of that which we hold too closely. But even in our blindness to what is familiar, God is there.
My prayer for myself today is that I remember to call upon God when I feel distant or lonely in these unusual (and at all) times.
Along with working as an independent teacher, Talib Huff volunteers and is the retreat team at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights. You may contact him at [email protected].