Thoughts from One Man’s Self-Quarantine

In the spirit of Pam’s well-stated reminder that, despite the timely suspension of services, we’re still a community, I thought I might share a few thoughts with y’all. My hope is that perhaps many of us could start streaming our thoughts, concerns and hopes to each other, staying cyber-connected while physically distanced. 

Even before receiving Pam’s communique, Sue and I had made the difficult decision that, given our doddering ages as well as some chronic health concerns that leave us feeling vulnerable in the current pandemic, we were going to get serious and pretty much self-quarantine until we get reliable info that things are under control. In addition to not attending services or other assemblies, that means holding off on my regular swimming at the Y (I’ll have to get my much-needed exercise in less pleasurable ways), declining some dinner and neighborhood get-togethers we’d scheduled, no more movies (including the Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Tosca we were so looking forward to) . . .  even our weekly babysitting gig with our precious granddaughter, since her parents have decided, at least for now, not to change their social connections. They totally respect where we are and are washing hands, elbow bumping, etc. like the rest of us, but their choices are theirs, of course. We’re all looking forward to much FaceTime. 

Last night, more sleepless than usual, I began to feel the weight of all this – not so much my usual outrage and frustration about the incompetence, chaos and corruption out there, but the reality of how much more personal this has suddenly become. I began to think of how much in my life, how many blessings, I take for granted. Even when I don’t make connections with friends, neighbors, family, I’ve taken much more comfort than I realized in knowing those connections are there for the taking. Even though we’ve missed plenty of Sunday services, it’s  distressing to realize it might be quite a while before they start up again. It’s all the more troubling to realize that even if Sue and I and others we love manage to stay healthy through all this, it may well be that others we care about, perhaps even some of us, may not. 

I’m a lucky person, rich in friendships and connections, blessed with someone I deeply love,  a wonderful family, food on the table, comfortable places to live, superb health care and, other than a few age-related aches and pains, nothing substantial to complain about. Nevertheless, I worry about these next days, weeks . . . months? I don’t look forward to this quarantine, this separation. I hope I don’t get lonely. 

And of course life with all its usual vagaries goes on even in the midst of such sudden, radical interruptions. As is probably not unlike the vista that many of us have brought to this new reality, Sue and I have four dear friends all of whom are facing life and death struggles with cancer. We will of course continue to keep up contact with them, although we’ll just have to see about plans to visit. And of course, in addition to our own anxieties, we feel the weight of theirs. 

I’m afraid I’ve long been too much of a skeptic to put much credence in intercessory prayer, at least the kind that seems to suggest some kind of magic. (I don’t think Janis was ever going to get her Mercedes Benz). But at times like these, the reality of some kind of ineffable spiritual connection gains a lot of traction with me. Here, in the outset of my missing y’all and all the folks we’re not likely to be seeing for a while, I find myself feeling closer to every one of you than I did yesterday. And not just that, I find myself gaining confidence that we’re all going to help each other get through this . . . and, I hope, not just us but, especially, the many people out there who need our care and concern, and our prayers, in so many cases much more than we do. Let’s be sure not to overlook or forget those who need us most. 

John Fisher