A word of encouragement for those on battling on the frontlines of Coronavirus, Doctors, nurses, health workers, scientists, community workers, pharmacists, carers and the neighbours who simply ask “are you OK? Do you need anything?
The serious pandemic to which many countries in the world have been subjected to due to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 has put us all to the test. Unfortunately, we know that this crisis is not going to resolve itself overnight and that the pandemic continues to spread. We are faced with a state of affairs that until a few weeks ago would have seemed unimaginable, like the scene from a science fiction film. My nephew (he’s 11) and thinks its a zombie type apocalypse with all the zombies waiting for the right moment. It’s hard to convince him otherwise. “He argues what else would keep us out of schools for so long? Huh!”
Everything unexpectedly changed, and what we had previously taken for granted now seems to be falling apart: the way we relate to others at work, our handling of affections, study, entertainment, prayer and the possibility of attending mass… just changed overnight
The current situation is precisely a reminding manifestation of how each and every one of us are truly interconnected, that we are truly a large single living entity within which the presence of each individual must be respected and considered as indispensable in the world at this time.
I have no answers, on what is happening, I’m not an expert, I’m simply an observer who is removed from society, who for the first time in years has listened to the radio to hear the announcements of our Prime Minister and the Government, yet in some way we are all experiencing exactly the same things ad processing the same emotions.
In any case, the most serious thing is that this pandemic — like any pandemic — is not only a threat to the established order, or our habits, but even more it is the cause of so much death (as of yesterday, 30.03.2020 globally that we know of there have been 777,798 cases of COVID-19 and 37,272 deaths), there has been so much pain, so much suffering. Thousands of people fell seriously ill and then died. Many families mourn their loved ones, to whom they could not get close to, to whom they were unable to say goodbye to, and many of whom were cremated without a funeral being celebrated or even a prayer being said for the repose of their soul.
This type of global upheaval is a condition that has left the minds of everyone, in a state of total shock and uncertainty, because many of us have never experiences such an event as we face now, what connection do we have with each other to a shortness of breath.
A breath, I am certainly not the one who would need to give you an indication of the symbolic meaning of a breath from human to a spiritual one.
Breath is the access of life. The only avenue without which life would be instantly extinguished and which, in a living organism of our species, passes through a breath. A disease that strikes there, affecting the entire symptomatic apparatus and induce us to broaden our scrutiny thus enabling us to comprehend the malady of the other, to consider that the pain of the other is connected to us is such a manner that we wholly depend upon it, becoming a risk or an essential source of help. If we are unable to comprehend this, then we are truly blind to the world around us, I mean what could be more evident than this, what other proof would any of us need at this stage? it was not possible to manifest what on a scientific level would be called a large living organism of which all of humanity is a part and which on a spiritual level we can recognise in the principle homo homini sacra res. It is Seneca who tells us so. But there is nothing more immanent on a day like this in which the Church remembers that Gabriel knelt to a mother upon the earth for the immanence of the living God.
I think that no additional words are required to demonstrate … the stones would cry out (οι λιτοι κραχουσιν — A proverb for the impossible occurrence—). And in this kind of situation our minds become uneasy and fidgety as on the one hand we feel powerless and on the other this powerlessness we also experience our reliance on the pervading laws of life and the laws of God. For us, for you, for those who have this principle of faith as a principle of openness, let’s say that the passage is perhaps made easier, a facilitated quantum leap, but also for everyone else who, perhaps, do not want to see or hear this openness to the spirit perhaps, this is a moment of great inner turmoil .
This morning someone asked me for help for their shortness of breath and told me that perhaps this perception of imminent death could be overcome by finding love’s adversary. This word ‘love’ in its etymology love, alpha prīvātīvum before mors-mortis.
So this universal principle of love which we yearn for and which could be the hand of the nurse next to us, or the face of our loved one who responds to us when we lack the physical breath and seek a breath of contact. This makes us understand that one of the universal laws that is the law of all of life according to this logos that somehow attracts us: that death is won only with this alpha privative which is before mors, which is love. Love as an antagonist of death which is physical, which is mystical, which is spiritual. This, in my opinion, is a moment of great consciousness. I can only speculate on how secular science bows before the face of that which manifests itself as one of the powers of God. There’s this mystery which when confronting our solitude, in order to prevent others from possibly contracting something that could be fatal or at the very least make them ill, our need for connection and interdependence is rediscovering the true meaning of love. It’s an incredible lesson to learn at a time of catastrophe and possible extinction.
You asked me how should we support family members, those still at work, and would we overcome the feelings of guilt that will manifest in those who have survived this misfortune.
We are suffering from a lack of connectivity and being able to help and do something for those in need. We are used to helping and doing something for others, for example when they are faced with illness or in hospitals. We accomplish this by being there, talking to them, looking them in the eyes, a breath with a breath. In this instance, those people who are the circuit-breakers of our hearts and minds radar, are obstructed by the fact that it is precisely this form contact that can determine the injurious malignant evil of all, not the good of all but the evil of all. So how do we even begin to understand that?
We have been a living, evolving and dominant species on this planet for millions of years. These millions of years have given rise to the reactions to our needs. It does seem that it has nothing to do with it, yet it does. When we need to quench our thirst we do so by drinking water, when we are hungry we eat bread, if we need love, we look for relationships that as living beings pass through specific neurons on our skin which have a direct connection with the limbic zones of our brain. The limbic zones are instrumental in our motivation, emotion, learning, and memory. This activates the emotions of belonging (affiliation and closeness), of help (aid and succour) and of loving kindness (generosity, gentleness and friendliness) so that through a simple caress we tell the brain in a firm and positive manner: “I am with you”. Obstructing that caress, obstructing the gaze impedes our means of connecting. Therefore we need to get cracking because this connection has to find other means. I’m telling people to: “use your voice”. Your voice at this moment in time is an amazing organiser of emotions, why are you trying to listen to word that are banal. If I say to you ‘well done’ (depressed tone), ‘well done’ (excessive tone), well done (delicate and firm tone) the result changes and is perceived differently. Your tone of voice is able to modulate the message and even those who are some distance from me, even those who have no idea who I am will react. So in this case a voice, a voice that means: “I’m with you, I’m speaking to you, I’m here. Hey, its OK I’m with you.” And our words will be understood to mean: “I will not leave you.”
The Chinese doctors who recently travelled to Italy to advise medical teams in their most afflicted cities told Italian doctors and nurses that one of the problem, that they never would have thought they would face, is that many health workers and medical staff who have helped have found themselves experiencing an unusually strong form of depression. Why have they experienced this form of depression? Because human care is not only about caring for the body but is a care for the whole. Therefore we have to tell our healthcare professionals, that they are not alone, that their service and sacrifice (just like a soldiers on the battlefield) is profoundly appreciated, that their being closet to those who die, making sure that they do not die alone, are able to comfort them and blessing them, is for us an amazing testimony which in turn will change them and allow us to change as well, because in their daily efforts we are able to perceive the mystery of the ‘beauty of humanity’. Therefore encouragement is the way forward at this time, with encouragement we provide the essential nourishment that those who are ill, and those emergency workers who are on the frontlines of this battle could really do with.
How do we overcome our guilt? There’s no blame attached in this! There’s no blame for those who survive! There’s no blame on those who have died! This is bigotry, an erroneous trap we allow ourselves to fall into, it is an abyss which prevents us from moving forward. We have the ability of becoming an anchor to those who are suffering the most. It’s somewhat like a consortium. We have to remain firm for them, we have to be their anchor, which means that if they are currently on the edge or inside the abyss of despair, then we must give them all we can and help them out of the abyss ensuring that everyone comes out of this, we have a duty to hold fast, because when they return to our embrace totally exhausted, our gratitude is not given in idle gossip, a gossip that becomes a testament of their heroic deeds. I believe we all know exactly what Jesus Christ meant. Here you are somehow able to render it by touching the animus of all, one by one. You may do it with your eyes, you may do it with your voice, you may do it with a touch of your hands, you may do it with your breath, or you may do it with prayer: we are such a mystery that even at a sub atomic level, our atoms feel a connection with each other, an infinite universal entanglement.
Just one of those particular coincidences, one in which the infinite kneels with Mary today, on this very day, I know that we are able to find the infinite in all humanity, this grasping of the anchor chain is the task that each and every one of us must take part in. Each one with their own unique characteristics, mine is to pray and offer Masses for those who have departed, for those that are ill, and for those who are fighting this pandemic on the frontlines, for all of humanity. You have your part to play, each according to their own abilities, because each one of us is indispensable within this whole.
Thank you to all those who have made an effort. We know who you are. God Bless.
PRAYER AT A TIME OF FRAGILITY
O almighty and eternal God, Our refreshment when fatigued, our support during weakness: from You all creatures receive vitality, subsistence and life.
We humbly come to You beseeching for Your mercy because today we understand the fragility of the human condition by living the experience of a new world pandemic.
We entrust our sick and our families to You: we pray you bring healing to their body, mind and spirit, helping all members of society to carry out their task and among them strengthen their spirit of solidarity.
Sustain, console and ease our doctors, nurses and health professionals on the front line and all the carers in carrying out their vital service.
You who are the source of all goodness, abundantly bless all of humanity, remove all evil from us and provide all Christians with an unshakeable faith.
Free us from the pandemic that has struck us so that we may serenely return to our usual labours, praising and thanking you with renewed hearts.
We trust in You and lift up our plea to You because You, Father, are the author of all life, and with Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in unity with the Holy Spirit, live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.
Mary, health of the sick, pray for us!