Does anyone remember when, as a young child, how you thought of running away from home? It might have been part of the past in each one of us. And it might seem to be a need nowadays again.
While much of our time is spent looking at a screen while communicating via social media or on a cellphone, studies suggest that good, old-fashioned face-to-face communication is still the most beneficial. Just a day or so ago, I heard how people are tired of Zoom-meetings. They’d rather have face-to-face meetings.
Preventing isolation and symptoms of depression that can accompany it are some of the most important emotional benefits of maintaining an active social network. Numerous studies have identified social isolation and a lack of social relationships as significant risk factors for depression. Dementia, too, can quickly progress in someone isolated from social contact, as home-bound people and those in nursing homes can show us.
I’ve been keeping a prayer list now for about two years, and have come to realize that it keeps me connected to people as I invite a healthy relationship between them and God. I’ve also been keeping a gratitude journal for some time, jotting down what I’m grateful for that day. I do both of these exercises before I lie down for the night, and they seem to be a healthy way of concluding the day, thinking of others and of blessing, and not of anything depressing. Even if we sense depression weighting upon us, it’s a good time to remember the prayer in psalm 51, vs 10,12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me … sustain in me a willing spirit.”
Recently, I resumed visiting a home-bound person after months of not being “allowed” to do it. We sit out on the porch, if the weather is conducive. She is fortunate in having her daughter and son-in-law next door, so she’s better off than most people living alone.
Families with a loved one in a nursing home are now allowed to visit him or her, so long as they sit outside. We might not have much time left before the really cold weather comes along, so it’s a good time to check up on someone you haven’t seen in a while, being careful given the constraints in place because of the pandemic.
Face-to-face contact is much better than anything else. Just ask a 8-month-old child, who wears a big grin when seeing someone coming closer.
Fr. Greg Poser, OSC, is associate pastor of area parishes.