Day 0: On the cusp of shelter-in-place order
Last face-to-face: visit with Capuchin directee leaving novitiate on way to catch last
Online: arduous airline cancellations
Day Planner: Criss-cross pages with cancellations — travel, haircut, opera, lectures, dinner
party, monthly spirituality class with Franciscan novices …
Email: scan and send prepared handouts for OFM novitiate for them to do on their own.
Include Gestalt Continuum "Noticing Experience:"
… "Follow the spontaneous flow of your
awareness: What are you aware of in terms of +bodily
sensations +feelings +perceptions +mental activities…"
Day 1: Shelter-in-Place
Print news/internet news/radio news/TV news: Coverage of the pandemic exacerbates
all my pent-up grief that roils to the surface: children ripped away from
parents seeking asylum at the border; 100 Americans killed daily by guns;
ban on Muslim immigrants; attacks on synagogues; massacres at black houses of
worship; ICE agents raiding homes; U.S. withdrawal from U.N. Human Rights Council,
human trafficking, desperate refugees crisscrossing the globe …
Having trouble bearing the accumulated heart hurt
Facetime: visit with my spiritual director. What is wrong with me? Just walk, she
advises. Don't think.
Walk: first white egret of the season visible across the mesa
Masked and gloved delivery boy brings grocery order for N., our 86-year-old
retired school-teacher tenant whom I check on daily. He from 6 feet: "Well if you
have to be quarantined, this is a great place for it. Big garden, privacy, short walk
to remote mesa!"
Experience some "privileged" shame
Not really helpful
Walk: from More Mesa cliffs overlooking the Pacific Santa Cruz Island stunningly
clear as though telescoped into view
Mask and glove: pick up Nikka Ramen to support local restaurant
Podcast: Gratitude guru asked about being grateful in the present circumstances:
"Be grateful you can breathe"
YES Thank you
Walk: shoulder my way through damp corridor of wild mustard and radish stalks
towering above me
Savor rustle of the stalks, chill dew on bare arms
YouTube: Bearded 79-year-old sage, author of Spiritual Unfoldment,
interviewed by U.K. Conscious TV. He serene, looks only to the present, reminds that
we all have to die sometime
Tell that to my late father who lost his mother to
the 1918 epidemic at age 6. Tell that to my 36-year-old daughter
(the one with the hard luck history) quarantined in her postage stamp
sized apartment who just completed an arduous doctoral program
only to watch job interviews vanish with dwindling university enrollments
Garden sit: Chalk white day lilies pop out … bloom, bloom, bloom
Marian Prayer Starter Card Quote: "All my fears vanish under your motherly
gaze. Which teaches me to weep and to rejoice," Thérèse of Lisieux
Yes Both weep and rejoice
As hard as that is
Garden stroll: The roses my late mother planted decades ago appear amid more
Sense of her presence comforts
Facetime: Chaotic dinnertime "visit" with son, daughter-in-law, 4-year-old,
and twin toddlers in New Jersey. Son, director of neighborhood
revitalization program that has transformed area, concerned for his many
vulnerable undocumented residents: no health care, hourly wages lost or
working in unprotected contexts, no rent relief, fear.
Helplessness in the face of so much suffering
Zoom: My graduate students appear in a tiled gallery of apertures. Discussion of
devotional Catholicism. One, from South Africa, dismisses this type of prayer as
"magical," not transformative, real prayer.
Sometimes true, I think
Sometimes, sometimes the pain of the world,
the "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears" overwhelms.
Needs to be held by some presence greater than self
or one's own fashioned words or longing.
Sometimes the thickly packed words that have ripened over the centuries,
held the desires and hopes, born the sorrow of so many,
are the only ones that can carry such weight.
Begin novena to Our Lady of the Way
Mask and glove: 6 a.m. surreal weekly "senior time" grocery shopping at local
supermarket alongside passing masked and gloved wraiths
Facebook messenger: 8-year-old granddaughter sends singing Giffees in place of
Delight and sadness mingle
Neck aches Back aches
Too much online everything
Mail: send much of recent stimulus check to food bank, rent relief programs
Livestream Vatican: Urbi et Orbi prayer. Frail pontiff, white robed, hobbles painfully
across a deserted St. Peter's Square, soft rain falls. Gray, eerie stillness. Bearing the
suffering world. Offering that weight to the ancient effigy of the cross hung man.
Days 24-29: Holy Week
Online: truncated virtual liturgies. Scenes of empty present/former parish sanctuaries
(in solidarity with the
global faith community)
Day 30: Easter
No walk: Low dark clouds, too chill
Zoom: all four family households in tiled squares: Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
California. Chaotic scenes. Chocolate eggs smeared on little lips. Twin 6-year-
old boys wrestling in background. Plans to be with them canceled.
Garden sit: Western fence lizard darts across path, pauses in thin streak of sun, pushups,
Grateful for spouse, children, grandchildren, garden, breath
Text: Council on Foreign Relations reports spike in apprehensions of migrant children
crossing the U.S. southern border alone. U.S. response exacerbates humanitarian
crisis in Central America, breaks U.S. law, violates international human rights
norms. Sign petition.
"Mother of Mercy"
YouTube: Omaha's "Zoo from Home" educator P., goofy young sweat-shirted Mr.
Rogers-like animal educator demonstrates emu eating posture for young viewers
This really IS a happy space
Garden sit: Meyer lemon tree heavy with fragrant fruit
Gratitude, a bit of privileged discomfort
Zoom: weird virtual teleconference with primary care physician for annual wellness
Walk: two band-tailed pigeons
Attend closely to their cooing
Zoom: tedious meeting with instructional technology mentor ironing out glitches in
online summer grad class
"… our life our sweetness, our hope"
Day 40: Earth Day
Facebook newsfeed: Fifty-year anniversary. Virtual this year. Day launched in response
to 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. Three million gallons, 800-mile ocean oil
slick, 10,000 sea animals/birds destroyed, environmental and economic
Online: Since 2016: U.S. withdrawal from Paris Climate Covenant, rollback of 95
environmental protection legislations — drilling extraction, toxic substances, water
pollutants, methane emissions, carbon emissions, greenhouse gases …
"Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet…"
Walk: Magenta Bougainvillea riotous, spilling confetti-like over the lip of the garden
shed onto the patio bricks
New York Times/Los Angeles Times/CNN/ MNBC/BBC etc:
Statistics, charts on pandemic. Nearly a million cases reported in U.S.
"Turn then most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy …"
Day 48: Onward …
Is poet Levertov prescient?
Am I "inattentive Adam," a fragmented self, impassioned by multiplicity?
Or is Whitman my guide on this strange journey?
"Do I contradict? Very well, I contain multitudes."
Or perhaps Roman Terence gives insight:
"In being human, nothing human is alien to me."
"… show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb…"
[Wendy M. Wright is professor emerita of theology at Creighton University, an author and spiritual director. She and her husband are parents of three adult children, grandparents of six, and currently live in Santa Barbara, California.]