Home Isolation, by Paul Dass, S.J.
My crossing shall not be hurried. For every threshold holds its own mystery.
No one is an island. The isolation (for the word ‘isolation’ is a cognate of the word ‘isola,’ meaning ‘island,’ ) of every man and woman, every child and neighbour, in these trying times, drives home the point that, at one level or another, each one of us is an island that stands out alone. We, as islands, stand out alone above the waters; the waters of the everyday tide in the ebb and flow of everyday life with the rise and fall of the everyday sea that forever surrounds us. Such waters can sometimes be dangerous and do sometimes threaten to overwhelm us with tsunami-like waves of worries and uncertainties, as they do now with the covid crisis.
And so we retreat into the safety of the island; into a safety insured us by that isolation. For on the island, we do stand above the waters. The waters do not reach inland. The dry land there affords us some measure of shelter and protection from the turbulent seas. The waters respect the boundaries of the island. They do not invade.
The island – or ‘isola’ or isolation - upon which we stand at the moment is our home. It is the necessary home by which we stay secure; by which we hope to draw the line between infecting and being infected. We need to do both, however. Isolation, at this point, is necessary.
But, lest we forget, the protruding land mass above the sea waters that form our private islands are forever linked to a geologic underneath of an underwater land mass that connects whole continents to continents. No matter how invariably the islands be separated at sea level, one from the other, no matter how far apart or distant they be located, one from the other, and no matter the thousands of sea-miles that divide even the continents, one from the other, they all remain rooted, grounded and connected by a common geologic underwater land mass that holds them securely firm and fast despite their disparate configurations. The earth remains round, remains one, and remains connected, deep down.
So, if ‘home’ now means ‘island,’ means isolation, it can only there for us to step deep down – that is, deep down into the centering heart of our homes. Every home, every occupant of a home, every individual and every person who lives there, can then begin to ask of themselves: where is centering heart of my home? If I can’t venture outside, then, let me venture ‘inside.’ And that ‘inside’ consists of many, many, layers and thresholds to pass over and into. If every layer or threshold were but only one more barrier, one more boundary and one more hurdle to cross over and overcome, let it be, for there is a ‘further within.’ And, at every turn of the point, at every threshold, I shall pause in awe and mystery. My crossing shall not be hurried. For every threshold holds its own mystery.
Such mystery within calls to be contemplated; that is, savoured, sensed, relished. It calls forth for an application of the senses; a recovery of the senses; of smell, touch, taste, and, of seeing and hearing, again. It reconstitutes the totality of one’s being-there – so as to savour and feel, touch and taste the mystery; that is, the mystery of coming home and becoming home. It allows us to reconnect, and, retouch. It reestablishes encounter. It ever deepens our encounter with those who mean most to us.
Such a form of an encounter – in mystery - resets our boundaries. It resets our relationship with one another.
The isolation, or the island, that we are at the moment, can reestablish our relationships to one another. For if we reach deeper, we will discover that profound land mass underneath that unites us and roots us – that steady, underwater, landmass that geologically connects us, does away with all sorts of surfacial boundaries and allows the very incoming waves to bridge us.
Our islands, our homes, will indeed be connected: we just need to reach deeper for a moment and allow that awesome mystery to awash us.
But, one searing, flashing, thought, knives through our minds: what about those who don’t have homes? Those who don’t have families to come home to? Those who don’t have friends by their side? But, have they lived in isolation all along? And, will they continue to live in that very same isolation even after this crisis period is over? Will they remain islands all throughout, all alone and all apart? For we have homes to isolate ourselves in. But, their isolation is of a homeless kind.
That, too, is mystery – a mystery that can awash us and change us, even now.
"Reflection 3 on the COVID-19 pandemic."
Mae La Refugee Camp-Thailand/Myanmar Border, West Nile Region-Uganda, & Stars Do Shine-Taunggyi, Myanmar
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