I have never been one to process my emotions. Rather, I have buried myself in tasks and responsibility to feel a sense of accomplishment. When emotions were necessary, I have always projected how I feel to match the particular situation I find myself placed. If you need a smile or laugh, I can provide that. Sadness? Anger? Those too can be displayed if the situation calls for it. But to tap into my own fear, my own anger, my own emotion, that is rare. Those internal dwellings have always been limited to private happenstance. For me to reach into the depths of my emotions calls for a time of retreat, a time of solitude, a time away. The chance for personal vulnerability requires a place of safety, security, and trust.
In a time of coronavirus, safety, security, and trust are impossible wants. The safety of knowing if I, or the people around me, might be infected is impossible knowledge. The security of the health of my loved ones against an invisible force is insurmountable. Trusting that those in power will make the best decisions for the greater good in a time of political dissonance is terrifying.
Surrounded beneath this shroud of isolation, I have attempted to celebrate this time as, “My own personal hermitage.” In truth, that adage has merely been bullshit advice I have attempted to say to comfort myself. This time in isolation has been a time of internal distraction rather than internal processing.
I dug up my backyard and laid a patio, rather than digging into my own soul and laying into my feelings. I planted new plants and tore down dying bushes, rather than planting seeds of hope and tearing out past fears and problems.
Secluded behind walls and glass, this time of isolation, in truth, has felt more like a prison and a tomb rather than a hermitage or personal retreat. In this time of Lent and promise of Easter, I am reminded that the imagery of planting a seed and burying a body is much the same.
The onslaught of news.
The ever-rising number of people affected by the coronavirus.
The unending list of events canceled.
The date of self-isolation delayed another month.
The mind-numbing droll of our eyes adjusting to the screen.
The sting of the homemade masks tugging at our faces and choking our breath.
The long lines at grocery stores and the delicate dance of social-distancing.
The longing to leave isolation to see friends, family members, and loved ones.
The connection of love is sorely missed, and the tears shed water the muck of our lives.
The adjustment to the screen—for all forms of communication—reminds us of the physical encounter that we lament, and the dreaded distance soils our hearts.
The silence of our homes reverberate with every passing ambulance, and our minds palpitate with the deafening conscience of our shared fate.
Each new update and adjustment to this “new normal” feels as if another shovel of dirt is tossed and piled upon our sullen bodies. The tomb darkens, the light fades, the seeds, and our bodies, buried.
Try as I might to mask my emotions and bury my feelings; the tomb of isolation eventually reveals our real truths.
This year away, studying for a master’s degree has not gone as planned. I imagined I would be challenged professionally and academically. The truth is that the only real challenge has been adjusting to a new life. I have missed Louisville, my old career, my old friends, and my old life royally. My ego has been belittled and bruised as I moved from a position of authority to a measly member of what feels like a meaningless team. I have been angry, frustrated, and saddened by the lack of intimacy I feel with a transient community. I have struggled mightily to connect with others, but I have been trapped between too old to be “one of the interns” or too young to be “one of the staff.” The lukewarm middle has been pitifully painful.
Screaming and crying in the tomb of my soul, I pound for the rock to roll away.
In this tomb of isolation, what truths are being revealed to you?
What emotions are you finally able to confront?
What pains are beginning to be healed?
What is pounding at the tomb of your soul?
Confined in the tombs of our lives, and buried beneath an impossible deluge of time, we wait and wrestle with what may come. The tears that are shed and the emotions that emerge break our hearts and minds open to the global promise that we will get through this together. While we may feel alone and isolated, our shared responsibility binds us together. This time is not a time that any could imagine, but it can offer us the grace to clear the clutter or our lives and celebrate the beauty that awaits us.
Buried beneath the darkness, the old seed presses against the inevitable weight of the world, life springs forth.
The dying of a seed offers the possibility of new fruit to be bared.
Just beyond the windows of our solitude, birds sing with rejoice of the fledging life.
The edges of our gardens gently erupt with color and budding flowers.
Trees blossom in a scene of color that speckle the ground scattering flower petals down like the aisle before a wedding procession
The promise of new hope is waiting to promenade through the streets.
Time eventually heals all wounds.
May this continued time in our tombs, be a reminder of the new life that awaits us tomorrow. May our scars and wounds be healed during this time. May the caves and cracks and crevasse of our hearts be flooded with new light. May color blossom in our lives.
With this hope, the isolation breaks. The seal on the tomb is lifted. The promise of tomorrow awaits. Easter reminds us that eventually, this too shall pass. The time ahead may continue to be uneasy. The light might fade again. But, each day, the sun rises, new buds bloom.