Along with countless others, I rewatched the movie Contagion and I resonate with the daughter of Matt Damon’s character. Due to a worldwide pandemic, she has been cloistered for months, and she is clearly tired of being cooped up and missing her friends and high school experiences. (At the end of the movie, her father stages a “prom” for her in their house, where he invites her boyfriend to come slow dance with her to U2’s All I Want Is You. No fear, they’ve both received the vaccine for the supervirus.)

I don’t want to minimize anyone’s fears of actually being infected by Covid-19, of spreading it to people who are high-risk, and of all the fatalities that will occur. But as I self-sequester myself in my place along public health guidance (as far as I know, I don’t have the coronavirus!), I’m finding that one of the biggest fears emerging in me personally right now is the terror of missing out on life. I know people talk about “fomo” but this isn’t just simple fear of missing out. There’s something deeper and more visceral for me. We will never be able to recover the many weeks, or even months, that we will be spending indoors and apart from our friends and family. Online interactions, video chats, and phone calls can only replace so much social interaction.

I see this social distancing going on for weeks and weeks on end. We’ll miss celebrating Easter and the Resurrection in person (thank goodness churches are putting their services online). Will we also miss summer with all the wonderful things that come with that season, including holidays by the sea and other vacations? And some experts speculate that coronavirus isn’t seasonal, so how far into this year will this seclusion last? Will it permanently change how we function and socialize? Will we be under house arrest until either a vaccine and/or an antiretroviral is developed? (I’m fine with getting rid of the hand shake, though, because elbow bumps are fine with me and I’m sure many diseases are transmitted via hand shake.)

How do we recover all this time apart? I feel this acutely because I feel myself aging, and the last thing I want to do is lose more time being apart from loved ones. Unlike when I was young, I don’t feel as though I have unlimited time ahead of me. Every day is precious. But it’s hard to appreciate this preciousness when life seems to be on hold. Time slips by and I’ll have even less of it on the other side of this virus, when life starts up again.

Can God work and bear fruit even in this time of sequestration? I struggle to believe this, because I think that I have to be out and about in the world to help Him make things happen. Things don’t “happen” when I’m shut in. Plus the Sabbath is only supposed to be one day a week, not for 2, 3, 4, … straight weeks.

There’s a biblical and agricultural concept of lying fallow. A field needs to lie fallow for a period of time, to restore its nutrients, before being planted again. I remember someone sharing that analogy with me once when I took a “sabbatical” year from being social and trying to focus on my relationship with God. Upon reflection, that seems to be poppycock. I don’t remember that year being foundational to all that happened afterwards. Also, I had control over the extent of the sabbatical — I wasn’t completely antisocial that year; I was more selective and focused. But I now regret pulling back that year — I wonder if there’s just this twisted Christian myth that we need to go on silent retreats to win His favor, and that I was just being legalistic.

I’m frankly not sure what to do with this forced time of quiet and solitude.