'The night is darkest just before the dawn'
so the proverb goes, but we are only entering
the long night; its early hours are still to come,
and we must stay alert and watchful …
As the darkness deepens let’s keep
an eye on the moon, and remember the satisfying
day still to come when this
trial is behind us.
Feeling sad at all the news, the havoc caused by the virus, I turn my eyes to the sunlight streaming in the window, stopping for a moment to enjoy its peaceful act of care for plants and people.
The destruction in Italy, the ten pages of obituaries in the Bergamo paper, creates a fear of what may become of my own locale, my family, friends and community seeming so fragile against the violence of the contagion.
A friend calls. I’m self-isolating and he asks, ‘do you need me to get you some groceries?’ The question, so kind and thoughtful, returns me to that sense of belonging to a human family whose strength is the bonds of union between us.
I sit in darkness, a single candle my source of light. Deep meditation gives me calm amidst all the upheaval of these days. I think on all the people in my life and my heart wishes each well: rivals, friends, neighbours, colleagues, siblings, parents and loved ones.
My days are slowing down, and I am acting within the confines of the possible. My feet still long for running in the mud, rain on my face, wind at my back. For now, it’s physio exercises and sitting in the sun, getting my Vitamin D. I am being creative as best I can in these unsettled times.
I see my friends by video calls and the connection gives me great joy. Within these walls I am going solo in a communal way, reaching out, reaching in, reaching peace.
I begin to sleep but remember my friend in distress. Having this virus is one thing, a physical illness, but the mental coping is a new experience for all of us. We must lean on each other, checking in to see how each is going.
Music has a primal urgency now—as though it is heard anew by our ears. We play audience to orchestras in empty concert halls, our phones streaming the beauty to our living rooms. The enforced slowdown gets in the way of our regular rhythm, syncopating the beat of routine.
The strangest thing has happened: even as the horizon seems ever darker, I take heart that the sun will rise in the East day by day, its light an invitation to hope.
A change of era is unfolding. We are all reaching for meaning, grappling for a sane response to the encroachment of the virus. People everywhere are responding to the new norms of behaviour. We are trying to understand what is happening at local and global levels.
All told, I sense that what is happening to the human family is revealing what matters to us. We are uncovering what is of ultimate significance. Personally, I am waking to a deeper experience of belonging to others. I notice my desire for better relationships with my loved ones, friends, neighbours and rivals.
Our communal identity
Community has arrived through conversation. We are connecting digitally and calling each other. Neighbours in every city and town are asking questions of each other. A new communal fabric is being knit together across oceans and continents online and off.
No one is an island anymore. We must never again see ourselves as separate “individuals” living separate lives. We are innately communal beings who long for relationships of love and solidarity.
The physical distancing requirements call for creativity. Each person is finding their own ways to give and receive tenderness. We all need strategies for sustaining community bonds in a time of seeming separateness.
The invitation today
The invitation today is for the creation of deeper ties between us. It is in seeing each person as sister and brother that we will pave a path forward.
With open hearts we can receive the invitation of this moment as persons and communities. With open eyes we can encounter that graced sense of belonging to each other.
As we approach unknown futures, it is crucial for us to become people of hope. May we notice the light which shines in the darkness.