At our regular Wednesday meeting the members of the Ottawa Community reflected on how they are coping with the isolation imposed by the Corona virus.
Since March 13 the community has agreed to keep the house safe. We cancelled the gathering for Eucharist of the Sunday community. Fr. Paul Tennyson still goes to Rideau-Perley which looks like a ghost town with severe restrictions on entry and movement within the centre. He is allowed to have a Eucharist but with only five participants. And he has instructed us about the precautions in place at the hospital.
At home, we instituted a cleanliness regime. Frequent 20 second washing of hands – the length of a double happy-birthday rendition – the cleaning of kitchen counters, the frequent washing with disinfectant of all the doorknobs, fridge handles, the dishwasher, all the handles in the kitchen and an incessant washing of all dishcloths, towels, rags… Only Fr. Bill is to remove the clean dishes from the dishwasher, Fr. Paulin does the sweeping of floors since Brenda, the cleaning lady, has not been keeping the house tidy because she has too many outside contacts.
As for our coping: yes, a bit of cabin fever. A scare on Saturday evening when a street person warned us of a stranger with body tattoos prancing on our second-floor roof. In the chapel we have a memory candle to remind us of the people affected by COVID-19: the medical people, the workers at the grocery story, the people who have died, and all the people at home who worry what this virus has done to their jobs, their investments, their pensions, their income.
But, as the Dominican Timothy Radcliffe wrote last week in La Croix, “I am deeply grateful, as never before, for living in a community, so that even in this terrible time, I can leave my room and find brethren. … Millions of people are deprived of the physical closeness that we need to flourish. On the other hand, cyberspace is filled with messages expressing love and care. ‘Are you alright?’ Suddenly, when I must not touch, I am in touch with people whom I have not seen for years. Yes, there is isolation, but also a new and wide communion of those who care.”
I think all of us can agree with his experience.
Every moment of difficulty is also a moment of opportunity. We in Ottawa will keep the world and all of you in our prayers.