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Creator God of ever-expanding universes, be mindful of Planet Earth’s contagion that seeks new hosts to infect, new reversals to upend, new spirits to crush. Protect us from whoever or whatever foisted this ghoulish scourge upon us.

Continue deepening our willingness to contain its spread, whatever the cost. Continue humbling us before its enormity whose duration lies in the unknown. Continue prodding our conscious participation in each twenty-four hours. Continue helping us be mindful of others and their needs.

Our lives and livelihoods hang in the balance of this global upheaval, fraught with dark wisdom. From this crucible of suffering must emerge fresh paradigms for more meaningful care for each other and for Planet Earth.

Help us become aware of these patterns as they surface and practice them. We renew our trust in Your gift of Life: each moment, so precious.

Amen.

 

 

Stories often reside within the roots of words.

One of these is quarantine from the Venetian variant, quaranta giurni: it means forty days, the length of time that incoming ships had to remain tethered to the docks before crews and passengers could disembark during the Black Plague. It thinned populations—between seventy-five to two hundred million people in Eurasia, and peaking from 1347 to 1351 in Europe.

Since last January, the word quarantine has surfaced again, a self-care response related to the Covid 19 pandemic. Deaths and numbers contaminated are recounted daily in the media, thereby heightening fears of death and cancelling social venues. Self-isolation is encouraged, as well as activities/work to pursue in the home to minimize sensory deprivation.

From a different perspective, however, I liken the word quarantine to my homebound condition. True, my body carries a terminal illness that is not contagious, that I have no control over and will eventually shorten my life as often mentioned in these blogs. But practice of CPA’s Steps IV and V has uncovered a deeper illness in my psyche, like a utility sink rusted with scum: nothing can be cleaned. For decades, it has jaundiced my thinking, my choices, and my instincts, has enslaved me within obsessive behaviors. Relationships were largely anemic.

So my spiritual uncleanness cries out to Higher Power in CPA’s Steps VI and VII: my readiness to have these distortions routed out and my humble prayer, daily, for their removal. On my own, I’m powerless to effect this change.

So my self-isolation continues to serve me well as more stuff from my unconscious is acknowledged and worked with: such on-going purification enhances my spirit for what is to come …

Winter’s dark shrouded St. Meinrad Archabbey Church and chilled its cruciform interior where I stood huddling in the shadows, with others. It was 1984, Advent, southern Indiana. Black-robed Benedictines had chanted the hour of Compline from their stalls, stashed away their Office books, then processed toward a side altar illumined by thick beeswax candles. Here stood a carved statue of the Black Madonna and Child, a replica of the one in Einsiedein, Switzerland, from which this foundation had been made in 1854. Before retiring, the monks always bade her good night—they were her faithful sons.

 

 

Strains of the eleventh-century antiphon, Alma Redemptoris Mater, sweetened the air, our hearts quickening with hope. Here was the crux of the Christmas mysteries we would shortly celebrate.

Then it was over. Everyone scattered within the shadows as I returned to the Guest House, still marveling at the experience. Clearly, this Madonna, also called the Gateway to Heaven and Star of the Sea, had power to help “…the fallen people striving to rise.” With my arthritic knees, I was among them.

Her presence continues heartening me during my end-time. When stung by fears, I ask her to wrap me within the folds of her copious mantle, then cling to her. Arms entwined, we hug and breathe in the darkness. The madness does leave, slowly.

 

 

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