The coronavirus pandemic can affect us in all kinds of ways: most people, including myself, have some degree of anxiety or concern about loved ones, especially those already prone to ill health. There are the challenges of self quarantine and increased physical isolation, right at the moments we could all use an extra hug or sit near a friend to talk intimately, face to face. If you’re an active person like me, doing work from the same small environment with the same people, day after day, has its own kinds of stresses. Many people have economic hardships from being laid off or other financial stresses brought on by the pandemic, with no clear end in sight.
And then there’s Jesus and the blind man, who is healed of his blindness. ( see this link ) For me, reading and praying on this scene is a way to let Jesus break into all of the mess of the world, to be present, really present, to what needs healing in our world. Because it’s not only about the virus but also about our vision: what is God inviting us to see more clearly in this time? Where are the limits of what we see in this situation? Lest we limit ourselves to the metaphor of vision: what has not yet touched us that might—for Jesus touches the man in need of healing.
For me, the answer is both personal and political. On the personal side, despite a couple of stressful weeks related to a 14 day self quarantine , I’ve felt incredibly grateful for small things: the way the sun rises over the houses of my neighbors every morning, bringing renewed hope, and the lovely, quieting colors of sunset over the trees in my backyard. The way it feels to bake bread —because we’re almost out of store bought and the store didn’t have any available stock last time we had food delivered during our quarantine, but I forgot how much I like to make homemade baked bread. Every day I try to find at least one beautiful thing, and at least contemplate it, maybe take a photo of it, too. (If you want to join in, please feel free to follow me on Instagram at marinamc68.) I’m grateful that my adult children are home, healthy, and joking around and silly with us. After my 14 day quarantine ended yesterday, going to the spacious park in my neighborhood felt like a minor miracle. I’m grateful for the rhythm of praying the Divine Office: the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer in the morning, and Evening Prayer in the evening, the rhythm it gives to my day in quarantine. I’m grateful for the friend who dropped off olive oil when we ran out but also left us wine and a bouquet of flowers to brighten our table. I’m grateful for meaningful work in remote teaching and even for the ways it challenges me to have to find new ways of teaching, new ideas for connecting to my students.
But if any of us stay with the purely personal, we are really blind, and not being touched by what’s happening. Our spirituality has to extend beyond only ourselves and only our now more circumscribed worlds. We still have apostolic work to do, even in a quarantine or lockdown. If we have the financial means, we can support others, for example through Boston’s new Resiliency Fund established by Mayor Walsh. See here for more ways the help out financially in Boston. Other cities or churches may have comparable funds. We can pray for others; in prayer we really are not far at all from the people we love, and when they are in our hearts they’re even closer than being in the same room. We can look out for neighbors on our block. We can console those in grief and accompany them through their losses. We can try to be patient with others in our quarantines or lockdowns and put up with the frailty of human nature, including our own. God is in all of this, working to strengthen our community and communion with one another.
God is never far from us; but do we see and are we touched and able to touch back in reply?
Please feel free to share any prayer intentions in the Comments section and I will be happy to include them in my prayers.