A basic longing all human beings have is to feel ‘connected’.
In Tom Hanks’ movie, Cast Away he plays a Fed-Ex executive who survives a plane crash and finds himself alone, marooned on an island far from home. Isolated by oceans he discovers the longing for connection. His ‘soul’ companion becomes ‘Wilson’…a soccer ball washed ashore, on which he paints a face. His psychological survival was arguably attributable to interaction with this mute ‘friend’.
People simply cannot remain healthy or function if they become isolated from others. It’s for good reason that down through the ages, solitary confinement has been considered punishment. Deprived of connection we slip into depressive loneliness.
Perhaps we feel isolation more acutely than previous generations, because with technological devices like smart phones at our fingertips, we’re used to continual ‘communication’. It feels strangely incomplete or disabling without them. Hence our despair with a flat battery or encountering low coverage. The ability to text at will staves off feelings of isolation and satisfies ‘connection’ craving. Similarly, social media offer hundreds of ‘friends’ (many unknown), reinforcing feelings of being connected – ‘liked’ too if we’re lucky.
Not long ago, I watched a documentary of the mission to rescue 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach who had become trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand. The resilience of the boys drew much comment as they sat on a ledge engulfed by darkness. Hoping the outside world would realise their plight and discover them, they waited, hungry, in desperate conditions for 10 days until located by British divers.
Having each other’s company during their confinement helped at one level, but morale was given a massive boost once connection with the outside world was established. That simple fact cannot be over-estimated. The divers took back notes the boys had written to their families – then hope soared.
Soon, sophisticated Israeli communication technology provided a ‘daisy-chain’ of small radio devices and data cables passing wireless communications through twisting, water-submerged caverns, giving the youths voice, data, and video connection to the outside world.
They were still separated by perilous passageways flooded by rainwater, but isolation was overcome by providing connectedness in a place where ‘line of sight’ was blocked by major obstacles.
It was a huge effort with many contributions to a successful rescue… most significantly, gaining outside ‘connection’ brought the boys assurance and sustenance, ultimately resulting in their salvation.
An interesting analogy can be drawn from this account. We’re in a deep predicament. Humanity has lost its way. We’ve become disorientated and disconnected from each other, but horrifically worse is the relational estrangement from God our creator. Turning our backs on Him leaves us hopelessly isolated in darkness and desperately in need of saving. People weren’t ever designed to function without Him. That’s why this truly loving God intervened, displaying love that will stop at nothing to save, to rescue and re-connect… a recovery plan was provided. A plan that offers hope and reconciliation.
We’re offered another shot at regaining our primary life- purpose… relationship with our Creator. The Cross ‘echoes’ a timeless reminder of this fact.