By Delia Chatoor
As a child in the 50s and 60s, I was aware of the various states of emergencies called to quell labour disturbances and was a teenager for the 1970 Black Power. I was away for the 1990 upheaval but was kept fully briefed on events. These occurrences by and large affected only the country and even with curfews, there was a great appreciation of the importance to be responsible and follow instructions.
COVID-19, however, is unique in that it is affecting most of the global community and with no known vaccine, rapid spread and greater uncertainty, it is understandable why strict regulations have been introduced and why countries are closing/have closed their borders.
A friend has described these times as one for “social cohesion and physical distancing”. These are concepts which may take time for most of us to appreciate but there are positives to be realised.
My days are now devoted to more time on Morning Prayer and other prayers, reflecting on the Readings of the Day. It is equally soothing to listen for the early birds as they begin their cacophony outside my windows as this provides the signal that the plants should be watered, do some gardening, bask in the early morning sunrise and enjoy the cool easterly breezes. Most of the flowers seem especially sympathetic as many have burst forth with blooms.
Part of the day is spent contacting friends and family, reading over the Classics, listening to classical music and hymns for Lent. On YouTube there are also videos of reflections and Masses from many countries to provide words of comfort.
I am not going out except to the supermarket. Those establishments which have introduced special hours for senior citizens and maintain strict controls within the buildings are to be congratulated. Their concern for citizens on the whole also shows what we, as a people, can do when we support each other.
No-one knows how long the crisis will last. There are and will continue to be dislocations and restrictions. For those of us who were looking forward to the Easter Liturgies and enjoyed trips to the malls to window shop and visits to family and friends, will have to adjust with one blessing in that there will be more regular interactions albeit virtual.
It is, therefore, within each one of us to maximise the days ahead by living the gospel message and having always before us the words from Psalm 139: 7–10 in which we are reminded that God knows where we are and what we need:
“Where can I go from Your spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me fast.”
Delia Chatoor is a retired foreign service officer, Vice President of the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society, and a Lay Minister of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando Parish