"Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." Luke 24. 39
You may have seen the bodach (old man) who stole our hearts on breakfast media this morning. His live-in carer noticed how much he missed his late wife, so she had a cushion made with her image on it. The old boy was delighted and now goes to sleep every night clutching his wife/ pillow.
What I found particularly moving was when he confessed that, as a young man, he had not been as kind to his wife as she had been to him, often preferring the company of his friends at the pub, so he asked forgiveness every night in his prayers. They were married for over 70 years and it is clear that their relationship lives on even though they are separated, physically.
We are all experiencing a morsel of that suspended intimacy, as lockdown spreads from weeks into months. The longing we feel for real contact must not be lost, or we would be diminished as human beings. But it must be endured. And the key to that essential balance shines through the story of the old man and his pillow: that we continue to nurture our treasured relationships by feeding them with our messages, thoughts and prayers.
Christians are fortunate because we already learn what it means to love someone we cannot see (yet). With any other human from the past whom we admire, we could only ever wish we had met them. But because of his resurrection to eternal life, we can know the living presence of Jesus now, while looking forward to a more tangible experience of his company in the future. Our expectation is built on the testimony of those to whom he appeared immediately after his resurrection, who knew him on both sides of the grave.