SJP Chaplain’s Reflection #1 March 26, 2020

Good morning dear residents at SJP:

Even though we’ve needed to remain apart in recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed connecting with most of you over the phone. It’s been wonderful hearing your voices! This devotional is another way of reaching out to you. My goal is to send one every week as a source of encouragement and support at this time.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;.
God is in the midst of the city and will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter
…the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
– Psalm 46

In these recent weeks my kids and I have been chatting about the word “isolation.” I have a clear memory of this term from my public school days when anyone who misbehaved in the class was sent to isolation.This was a designated corner in the classroom where the student stayed for a period of time until invited back to rejoin the group.

As a child I pictured the word isolation spelled “ice-olation.” In my mind it was a cold and lonely place and I felt badly for the kids who were sent there for whatever reason. I always wanted to reassure them that everything would turn out alright.

In my role as a mom I tried to positively re-frame the word isolation for my kids, explaining that it simply means keeping some distance from people for a while – not gathering in groups and staying home most of the time. While it sounded somewhat better than languishing in a corner it still didn’t sound like much fun!

In these times of social separation (which for some of us living with families this means even more togetherness!), we’re definitely called to nurture a spirit of patience and creativity. We must follow as closely as possible the guidance and protocol recommended by our health and government leaders. While for some this means self-isolating in order to help contain the spread of illness, others are simply encouraged to practice healthy social distancing.

The good news is that whatever our unique circumstances, we’re facing this crisis together and can reach out to mutually support one another as we move forward day by day.
One summer I worked at a daycare where the teacher was trying to implement some order and control over her classroom. She certainly didn’t want to isolate anyone so suggested we put an empty kiddie pool with a few books and toys in the centre of the room. Anyone who acted out would be asked to go and sit in the pool.This way the child would be apart from the others while still remaining within the group. I figured if I was a kid I’d definitely want to be in that pool, which is exactly what happened! Chaos ensued as all the kids clamoured for their turn! The pool idea was immediately shut down.

Psalm 46 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Be encouraged today that you’re not alone but part of a broader community living through this together. Many people may be feeling an increased sense of isolation and fear. While we may need to physically distance ourselves from each other, we can maintain strong emotional ties by continuing to reach out as we’re able through phone calls and email.

Consider how you might reach out to someone today to offer assurance, comfort and peace. God is our refuge and strength and promises to sustain us moment by moment.

Please remember I’m here to support you during this challenging time and would love to hear from you! You can reach me anytime by phone or email and I’d be happy to chat and/or pray with you. I hold you all in my prayers. Blessings in your day!

Anita Schroeder Kipfer, Chaplain
519-590-3572 (cell)