Marisa Guerin, PhD - March 31, 2020
How to begin to try to write a blog post in the time of coronavirus? I have been desiring to write for weeks, but feeling totally unable to come up with any coherent story or message.
And that’s part of the reality, isn’t it? My house and neighborhood LOOK the same, but the coherence of what used to be normal life is gone. I’m holding an armful of hopes, worries, memories, questions, and appreciations. They don’t fit together on their own; I have to embrace them in the hope that something whole will be knitted from these threads someday.
In one day – no, in one hour – my mind and heart whipsaw through a huge range of emotions and thoughts. Often, I feel anxiety… about the safety of my cousins in Spain, some of whom are in the hospital, and my nieces who are a nurse and a doctor, and my dear friends who are frail or in nursing homes. And then, a while later, I check Facebook and I am cheered to see beautiful photos, and very funny jokes, and amazingly creative, talented people from all around the globe sharing music. It’s extraordinary and awesome. My husband and I go out for a walk and take in the beauty of Spring, while giving wide berth to other passers-by and chatting with neighbors from a goodly distance. And later, doing laundry or baking cookies or sitting down to dinner with Mike, I forget the big world entirely. I’m immersed for at least a little while in the normal rhythm of a domestic routine…until I check the news, and then I am filled again with dread, mixed with frustration. And so it goes.
I try to sit quietly for a time of reflection each day, perhaps to write a bit in my journal. But to my great surprise, I find that I have taken to carrying around a rosary – and so, I say the rosary. Yes, me, woman of 2020, progressive feminist Catholic, I say the rosary. Why? It’s hard to say. No one suggested it to me. I have rosaries lying around the house…some are gifts, some were passed down from the devout people in the generations before me. They are keepsakes, touchstones linking me to my grandmother, my aunts, my parents. The one I use these days is rather new and very simple. It is made of macramé-tied brown string, with little brown wooden beads. I don’t know how I came by it. It feels warm.
The rosary as a practice has a very old-fashioned feel to it. I think of it as a meditation aid that may be sort of like Buddhist prayer beads. I figure there are two ways to say the rosary…one is by paying attention to the prayers I am repeating: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be. But I find that if I’m going to pray those prayers, then once through, slowly, with my best attention seems like enough. No need to do fifty Hail Mary’s! So, I can’t really hang in there to say a rosary if I plan to pray the words with full intention.
On the other hand, if I pray the rosary by letting the memorized words flow through my mind, without my conscious attention, and my fingers on the beads, moving one at a time, I am able to let my mind rest in loving attention on the persons I care about, the world I care about, sending heart energy and patiently being present to the mystery of it all. It seems like a good way to spend 10-15 minutes, a brief entry into a calmer, prayerful interiority in this fractured, jagged life.
I am sure that someday, the jumbled nature of this crisis time will have settled into patterns, into new meaning. But in the meantime, there will be many months of great disruption; I know there will be grief for losses as well as celebrations of new life. I will do my best to remain in gratitude for family, friends and neighbors, and especially for all those in health care and local business and government who are working so hard to serve the needs of the public.
Hang in there, dear reader. Live each day. One bead at a time.