I had a wedding scheduled for April (as a guest). It was going to be a glittering celebration of love, but that poor couple had to postpone because of COVID-19. While they are busy worrying about organising it all over again, I hope they get reassurance from the words I asked the groom's mother to pass on:
"you don't need all those other people there; the only important people in this marriage are the two of you".
I decided, this weekend, that I would self-isolate for two weeks to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 spread across the world. Instead of feeling powerless to combat this (or having the grandiose delusion that it won't come near you), there are plenty of things we can do to stay healthy and connected.
Now, I am self-isolating because I can (I'm not sick and I haven't travelled recently).
I have been at this business for two years now, and I'm very comfortable at my father's old desk in my house typing away. Not everyone can do this, but if it is at all possible, it is strongly recommended, together with social distancing and good hygiene.
Another thing I'm doing to flatten the curve, is disinfecting each morning.
It doesn't have to cost the earth. Anything with alcohol in it will do. Today, I used white vinegar (with some essential oils to make it smell better). It costs next to nothing, especially compared with all the name-branded fancy cleaners and disinfectants. I change my hand towels each day too, and practising hand hygiene.
I have also been taking my temperature every night, a couple of hours after dinner.
Because I've had a little cough for the past two weeks, I could put this down to a bit of hay fever, a little cold, or something in the air irritating my throat. Maybe it's just that I (unknowingly) have my mouth open when I'm asleep? Who knows? It could be anything, but I know that if my temp goes up to a fever (37.5-38.3 degrees Celsius), I need to let my loved ones and neighbours know, by phone of course. If you are in Australia or New Zealand, hop onto Flutracking.net and start taking the annual survey each week. It's quick and easy; I've been doing it for years.
Now, I was raised a Catholic, and recent revelations and changes have combined with my disappointment in the church not allowing women to be priests, so that I stopped going to mass a few years ago. I still believe in God, but it has become a more personal relationship, and I have to work at it in different ways.
Mum would always try to get the family to say the rosary together, for the world; and when she woke in the middle of the night, she'd wake Dad to say a decade together to help her sleep. They prayed for our family. So I decided recently that I would say the rosary, properly (because I never have), and I would attempt to say it every morning while on what I like to call #Homielation (that's home isolation, but made to sound less like detention).
In the rosary, we pray to God, but we also ask Our Lady to pray for us too. There are five decades (comprising the Lord's Prayer, ten Hail Marys, a Glory-Be, and the Fatima prayer), and each day there is a set of "mysteries" to ponder.
On Monday, we ponder the Joyful Mysteries. These include the Annunciation to Mary that she would be Jesus' Holy Mother, her Visitation of her elderly cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist, the Birth of Jesus in the stable, the Presentation of Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem, and the Finding of Jesus in the temple when he was aged twelve.
I want to just reflect on the Fruits of these Mysteries -
Love of your Neighbour
Joy in Finding Jesus
These all resonate with me right now, because in these COVID-19 times, we are facing all of these. They are called "fruits", which suggests something good, and you might wonder about that (especially regarding poverty and obedience).
Let's summon our logical brains to reflect on each.
This is not modesty, but knowing your strengths and limitations, and owning up to them. Understanding how far you can go, and who you can work with to go a little farther, are the foundations of transformation and the ability to push beyond your personal limits. Hence, humility is liberating.
2. Love of your neighbour
I am so blessed with lovely neighbours, thankfully. But right now, I need to value them by popping a card with my phone number on to say, "if you need anything, call me, because I'm nearby and I can help". I don't have to go breathe on them, but I can be here for them. The fact that I made chicken soup last week and froze it in individual portions, means that I can leave some at their door if needed. Hence, love of your neighbour makes you able to connect in whatever way you can.
We have just gone through an horrendous drought, followed by devastating bushfires, and even some flooding. Some people are knowing poverty right now, where this time last decade, they were riding high. Some people are just as poor as they ever were. How can poverty be a good thing? I think, that those of us who have enough (or too much) are in a position to help those with nothing. And there is nothing like giving from the heart, out of love and compassion. The flipside is that some people who find themselves experiencing poverty realise how much of their material wealth was worth nothing, and what counted were the relationships they had. Poverty lets you know upon whom you can rely. And it makes you a more reliable friend and family member.
Right now, we are seeing the benefit of obedience, because if we obey our Public Health directives, we help to flatten the curve. The disgraceful flouting of these directives in Bondi Beach has been linked to new cases of COVID-19. We also saw pandemic panic lead to essential items like toilet paper disappear from supermarket shelves; yet once respectful treatment of retail staff and purchase limits were implemented, things settled down. So, obedience helps us to remember to keep calm and look out for others.
5. Joy in Finding Jesus
Some people might not feel like staying with me for this bit, but I promise I'll be brief! I think that having faith and being able to pray have a really powerful effect on my ability to stay calm. Praying is something that I can do anywhere, anytime and alone. I need absolutely nothing to pray, and anyone with nothing will always have something if they have faith. I can pray for absolutely anyone. So, I started my rosary by praying for my family and friends, and then I starting thinking about their families and friends, my neighbours and colleagues.
Before I knew it, I was praying for the whole world.
Now, I had an absolute epiphany on Sunday, and I can't wait to share it with you, but I will wait, because I want to get through the other fruits of the other mysteries. I also want to see if I can incorporate it into the new book that I'm writing. Like [RE]BIRTH: Self-Transformation over Tea and Tarot, there is a little story to start this new book. I'm writing that story now, and it is more complex than [RE]BIRTH. I'm naming characters and fleshing out back-stories a lot more. It's looking good!!! I would love a proof-reader when I'm done ... so let me know if you are interested. Reading is a great #Homielation thing to do!
Thanks for staying on #Homielation with me, keeping hygienically clean and doing what you can for social distancing. We will get through this, together!