The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: Quarantine Reflections

Inside looking out (2020)

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch
Quarantine Reflections

I have a new favorite band. They remind a lot of the energy and joy we enjoyed with our kids when they were young. The Clarks are putting up videos every day on YouTube during the pandemic shutdown. I have had so much fun watching these — and let me tell you, they’re good! This little girl, in particular, is going to be a star.

So may I introduce to you Colt Clark and the Quarantine Kids.

• • •

First published on, The Netherlands, March 13, 2020 | By Tom Janssen

Today, I thought I’d share some folks’ personal reflections from the quarantine that have been published at various places around the web. It’s always fascinating hearing what people are doing and thinking in difficult times like these. We’ll sprinkle these throughout the Brunch.

So here is how I have been doing.

I’ve been waking up feeling paralyzed. Overwhelmed. Helpless. I’ve been going to bed disappointed by lack of productivity and optimism that day and hoping to wake up feeling different (more sanguine or bad-ass or something).

Self-care routines—not so much, honestly. I haven’t been live-streaming workouts and getting in the best shape of my life. I’ve actually been sitting on my butt all day. I’ve slacked off on my daily meditation. I have not been motivated to use the time saved not commuting to take up knitting or bread baking. I haven’t Marie Kondo’d my bedroom, or done quarintinis with friends over FaceTime. (I have been scrolling through Instagram watching other people doing these things, and wondering what’s wrong with me that I cannot.)

Instead of diligently limiting my news updates to hourly intervals or curated newsletters, I’ve been frantically flipping through the permanently open tabs on my laptop and refreshing the feeds on my phone every few minutes. (What will go to shit next?)

Work-wise, I’ve been doing what feels like more or less the bare minimum and having a hell of a time concentrating.

Food? I’m not getting creative with a can of chickpeas (despite having written this last week) or sticking to three square meals a day. I’m spooning peanut butter into my mouth at odd intervals and working alarmingly quickly through the one-pound bar of chocolate from Trader Joe’s that was supposed to last a couple of weeks.

• Carolyn L. Todd, Is Anyone Else Just Barely Functioning Right Now?

From the Babylon Bee

During a shutdown, the things that mark our days—commuting to work, sending our kids to school, having a drink with friends—vanish and time takes on a flat, seamless quality. Without some self-imposed structure, it’s easy to feel a little untethered. A friend recently posted on Facebook: “For those who have lost track, today is Blursday the fortyteenth of Maprilay.” …

Giving shape to time is especially important now, when the future is so shapeless. We do not know whether the virus will continue to rage for weeks or months or, lord help us, on and off for years. We do not know when we will feel safe again. And so many of us, minus those who are gifted at compartmentalization or denial, remain largely captive to fear. We may stay this way if we do not create at least the illusion of movement in our lives, our long days spent with ourselves or partners or families.

• Heidi Pitlor, Days without Name: On Time in the Time of Coronavirus

By Teresa Burns Parkhurst, with

[N]o matter how much Christians talk about God’s presence, I know that I have always been much more attuned to God’s absence. Mine is the type of faith known as the Apophatic way: a form of spirituality that asserts that the only way to speak of God is by negation—by saying not what God is but rather what God is not. That way of speaking has become my métier as we face a pandemic that hundreds of thousands cannot possibly survive. “Where are you?” I ask as I go through my day. I’ve never been much bothered by God’s all-too-often apparent absence. But these days, I find myself asking questions. “Are you really there, God? I mean, really there? People are dying, God. Millions of people are sick. More than two hundred thousand have died. And I fear that’s just the beginning.” Like the children of Israel so long ago, I wander in this wilderness and I cry out, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”

…Simone Weil, the French philosopher and mystic, wrote: “Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link.” I experience the absence of my loved ones, of my God. But without absence, can there ever really be presence? I’m not sure. Somehow, I think not. Every separation is a link. Absence creates a space where presence can be sought. And, just maybe, where presence can be discovered.

• Mark A. Jenkins, Absence

It’s a nice illusion—nice to feel like we’re in it together, even if my real world has shrunk to one person, my husband, who sits with his laptop in the other room. It’s nice in the same way as reading those essays that reframe social distancing as solidarity. “We must begin to see the negative space as clearly as the positive, to know what we don’t do is also brilliant and full of love,” the poet Anne Boyer wrote on March 10th, the day that Massachusetts declared a state of emergency. If you squint, you could almost make sense of this quarantine as an effort to flatten, along with the curve, the distinctions we make between our bonds with others. Right now, I care for my neighbor in the same way I demonstrate love for my mother: in all instances, I stay away.

And in moments this month, I have loved strangers with an intensity that is new to me. On March 14th, the Saturday night after the end of life as we knew it, I went out with my dog and found the street silent: no lines for restaurants, no children on bicycles, no couples strolling with little cups of ice cream. It had taken the combined will of thousands of people to deliver such a sudden and complete emptiness. I felt so grateful, and so bereft.

• Nora Caplan-Bricker, Lost Illusions

By Sam Ryser, May 15, 2020. Check out more artists at “Art in Isolation” (NY Times).

We’ll say goodbye with an encore from the Clark family, in hopes that baseball will return soon and the strains of this song will echo through Fenway Park once again.

45 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: Quarantine Reflections

  1. I do not miss “church”, though I miss seeing friends face to face. I do not like zoom church (won’t do it) nor zoom SS class (which I do to see the faces of friends).


  2. My life has not changed much if any–except that traffic has been considerably less until this past week. I live in NE TN. I do interior remodels. Just finishing up a bathroom remodel. Our daughters and sons in laws and us do not “distance” so we regularly see the grandkids. Life has been just fine.

    I do think that economically the situation was not well thought out and we’ve stepped over a cliff based on fear and very little information. As Robert said, the middle class will shrink further and many will drop out the bottom.


  3. I got a real kick out of looking at that little drummer’s face. He’s already got that whole background vibe where they’re just behind everything holding it together. When I say they I mean the drummer and the bass player. They just have a whole other thing going on back there. Very funny. Very cute!


  4. “Where I live, Christianity doesn’t necessarily involve “inconvenience to preserve the lives of those we love”; for some, it is more about exercising one’s “rights” without regard to the welfare of one’s neighbor.”

    too many communities are at risk because of this kind of stupid


  5. Robert, my middle daughter teaches piano and is music director at a small church too, and she’s giving lessons on facetime. For her church, she has organized the choir to do several songs online, and they have teamed up with another church too. It’s good to see what people can come up with. Oh, and my wife also gets her piano lessons with facetime, but not from our daughter. That wouldn’t work because they’re too much alike.

    Loved the Quarantine Kid. I sent links to several of their songs to my daughter.


  6. +1 about the drummer. He’s got it down! The bassist ain’t bad, either. I also appreciated the fact that the dad has them playing Beatles tunes!


  7. The first couple of weeks, I stayed in my pajamas until noon. Got tired of that; now get up and dressed right away, and have the chance to get a few more things done, rather than only sit at the computer. I’m about to go out and get my summer flower pots planted.

    I’ve been knitting and sewing. I’ve been playing the piano more, which I need to do because I have a bucket list duet I’m working on, to play with my pianist son some day in the future. Husband and I both have been baking – when we can get flour. Priority baking is bread, because I’m not going to pay $6 – $8 for a good organic loaf, and with just husband and me at home I only have to make bread once a week. He likes to have cookies, so he’s been dragging out his favorite recipes every couple of weeks. So far, we haven’t gained any weight.

    With husband being a retired Federal worker, we’re okay financially. Stimulus money went to the last bit of debt, and our local food bank. I worry a little about our kids, but so far they’re just a little pinched, in different ways because they each have different sources of employment income.

    I miss being at Church the most, not only for the Liturgy, but seeing and hugging the people. Interestingly, tuning in to the streamed services has helped me be more regular and serious with prayer. I’m grateful for online friends, and the gang at IM is definitely near the top of the list.

    That whole Clark fam damily is talented. Daughter has charisma for sure, but the drummer son is impressive!



  8. My wife and I had been going out to eat a lot in the last couple years. We’d had a little more money, and we often — one or two times a week — had to go to two appointments or destinations one after the other that were sufficiently far from home that we couldn’t make it home to eat between them. Now we wonder if our favorite restaurants, some of them new, will survive, and we wonder if we will ever be willing to eat in a restaurant again.


  9. Yes, you’re right. But so far as I know, in the US, including in NYC, there has been care for everyone who needed it, or at least everyone who was cared for in hospital, including enough ventilators. That was definitely because the curve was flattened. Yet the death rate of those who were put on ventilators was almost 90%. If I had to go to my local hospital — which is not being overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases — for COVID-19 treatment now, and had to be placed in ICU and ventilated — which is likely given my age, weight, and comorbidity — I’m not sure the results would be any worse than if I’m exposed to the virus later, develop the disease later, and need the care later (barring development of better treatments, of course).


  10. “Those whose lives are more secure can afford to say, “What should we do now to make sure our lives and our economy are in the best shape a year or two from now?” But those who are in a less secure position can’t afford to wait and can’t afford to think long-term – they’d rather have the immediate reward of a paycheck this week than the long-term reward of a job and a stable economy a year from now.”

    This is the purpose of stimulus payments. The problem is the Senate. Read even a little bit between the lines and the discussion is how large a payout to corporations the Republicans will demand to allow payments to the non-rich as well. The current round of discussion has the Republicans dismissing the idea entirely, having suddenly rediscovered their conveniently intermittent obsession with the deficit.


  11. CM, fair enough to stay on the personal side. Strictly personal , other than canceling a few trips and not going out to eat, the virus has had little impact on my personal life. I have lost money in the market but right now it is on paper and counter balanced with paper gains in medical and communication stocks. Worried about hard assets and the commercial real estate market. Lots of people at all ends of spectrum, playing the system. Time to bottom feed on Disney and stocks that will come back if you can wait. This is bad for the working class and those who depend on others for a paycheck. Someone above mentioned several classes and they are right. Government workers at all levels are immune from this financial crisis and it is the private sector taking a hit especially the “little guy”. Teachers, govt workers and state, county and city workers are a new class that is a driving force. However, like Marie A. found out , even the very top cannot survive total economic and social upheaval. We must all be in this together and come out of it quickly. Escape from New York might be a documentary if we are not careful. I pray that there is a recovery that starts at the bottom and works it way up. So much of economics is psychological.


  12. “I’m not sure the difference will be in total numbers of deaths from the virus,”

    I don’t think this is quite right. Treating Covid-19 is, in a broad sense, the same as treating lots of viral infections: keep the patient alive while the body fights off the virus. What it takes to keep the patient alive long enough depends on the virus. In the case of Covid-19, it requires a lot of care and equipment. Some patients will die even with this, but some will live, who would have died without it. So spreading the infections out will result in improved survival rates.


  13. A lot of medical providers have resumed normal activity here. Just the other day, I took my wife to the enormous health campus in Lancaster for her yearly oncology exam; I had to stay in the car, but the parking lot was packed, and there were so many people. My wife was horrified at the human gauntlet she had to run to get into the building; people were being checked for fevers at the entrance, but it created a log jam of a dozen people coming and going at the door, all way too close together and chatting at close range! Then she got out of the elevator when someone got in after her — he was within three feet — and the guy got mad.


  14. My experience during quarantine: I obviously have no idea how all this will end, and it’s putting me in a bad emotional state. I’m on furlough, without confidence that my job will be there at the end of the furlough. My wife are I are both in high risk categories, so we are as apprehensive of economic reopening and resumption of anything even approximating normalcy as of financial devastation. My wife is teaching online music lessons to about half of her normal load of students; the church is continuing to pay her monthly salary; benefits — including healthcare — continue from my job, and we are getting my unemployment plus the $600 a week; we’ve received our economic stimulus disbursement — so we are not suffering severe economic repercussions at this time. But the future is more uncertain than it has ever been, and anxiety is sapping my always low reserves of energy to get anything done here — such as the major cleaning our apartment needs. In the meantime, I’ve taken over most of the normal round of domestic activities, cooking, dishes, laundry, picking up groceries curbside; but that’s about it. I am rereading the Lord of the Rings, and enjoying it — it’s an escape, but, for all the conflict of the story, it’s a gentle and humane escape, which is what I need lots more of right now (thank you, J.R.R. Tolkien!).


  15. MODERATOR NOTE: I have deleted several comments, and may delete more. I’d really like to stay away from the politics of all this today and focus on our personal experiences of the quarantine. I am enjoying hearing what everyone’s daily lives are like and how we are managing. I’ve kept a few that are tangentially related because they speak of the different experiences different groups of people are having during this crisis.


  16. You’re agreeing with me? I have to reexamine what I said!

    Just kidding.

    My view of this is complicated by having my two feet straddling different classes. I can’t just sit it out — at least not once my furlough ends (but who knows if it will end, except in permanent unemployment?) — but I think the country’s leadership has handled and is handling this crisis terribly. We need testing, we need contact tracing, in order to not be flying blind, which is what’s happening now. Flying blind will result, has already resulted, in needless, preventable death. But our cowboy culture like flying blind.


  17. Peggy Noonan certainly doesn’t speak for me, or many of the people I work with, and we are working class/blue collar all the way.


  18. Regarding the death toll: Outside of the development of a vaccine and/or new treatments, I’m not sure the difference will be in total numbers of deaths from the virus, but in how those deaths are spread out over time, and how that spread impacts the ability of the health care system to deliver its normal pre-COVID-19 level of care.

    And although I’m only in favor of reopening with adequate testing (which we don’t have) and tracing, as well as social distancing remaining part of our long term culture (though not to the degree that it has been in the early part of this crisis), let’s be clear: Many — not all by any means! — of the group that wants to go back to work wants to because they won’t survive financially otherwise; there homes will be lost, their families will be broken up, and they will fall into intractable poverty. However stable the economy will be in a year won’t benefit them once their bottom falls out. This crisis’ economic impact is going to shrink the middle-class significantly, and those that fall out the bottom will be lucky to find any kind of job in a year. As for those already at the bottom, they will be lucky to survive.


  19. My weekdays haven’t changed much other that business has been slow. I work at a hospital and need to be on site in order to perform my duties. I expect to be busier next week since one of the units which performs elective surgeries is scheduled to reopen on Monday.

    Weekends are a different story. I don’t get out much except to go shopping. Sometimes I have to wait in line before I can go in and shop. Much of Virginia partially reopened yesterday but the counties closest to Washington, DC remain locked down until May 28. So I guess I will continue watching services online for at least two more weeks.


  20. Except, that’s not really the choice we’re facing. What we’re facing is either a relatively short, extreme shock to the economy accompanied by a small death toll, or a long and drawn-out series of economic shocks accompanied by millions of deaths. Most economists agree that the former will do less damage to the economy.

    I think what’s really going on is more a matter of short-term versus long-term thinking. Those whose lives are more secure can afford to say, “What should we do now to make sure our lives and our economy are in the best shape a year or two from now?” But those who are in a less secure position can’t afford to wait and can’t afford to think long-term – they’d rather have the immediate reward of a paycheck this week than the long-term reward of a job and a stable economy a year from now.


  21. A few of my gaming group has been debating trying TTS for the beast-game known as Twilight Imperium 4, but haven’t mustered up the guts to try it yet. A few of us are on Board Game Arena quite frequently. They have a decent selection of games, and the real coup is that, unlike TTS, the mechanics for these games are all computerized so that it does all the work, you need only make your moves.


  22. There’s more than one divide. It’s not just two classes. There are multiple layers. Noonan may be expressing the attitude of two of the layers of class in this country, but she doesn’t express all of them. She doesn’t speak for the meat-packing plant workers, for instance, who are getting coronavirus by the thousands, or to their situation. They are the true underclass, and both classes you speak of are on top of them and advantaged in comparison.


  23. I’ve already paid for my Zoom account, and don’t want to multiply my social media apps beyond reason. Besides, I tend to run in “theater of the mind” mode anyways.


  24. Peggy Noonan; the divide – Overclass versus “regular people”

    I’ve called this divide the protected versus the unprotected. There is an aspect of it that is not much discussed but bears on current arguments. How you have experienced life has a lot to do with how you experience the pandemic and its strictures. I think it’s fair to say citizens of red states have been pushing back harder than those of blue states.

    It’s not that those in red states don’t think there’s a pandemic. They’ve heard all about it! They realize it will continue, they know they may get sick themselves. But they also figure this way: Hundreds of thousands could die and the American economy taken down, which would mean millions of other casualties, economic ones. Or, hundreds of thousands could die and the American economy is damaged but still stands, in which case there will be fewer economic casualties—fewer bankruptcies and foreclosures, fewer unemployed and ruined.

    They’ll take the latter. It’s a loss either way but one loss is worse than the other. They know the politicians and scientists can’t really weigh all this on a scale with any precision because life is a messy thing that doesn’t want to be quantified.

    Here’s a generalization based on a lifetime of experience and observation. The working-class people who are pushing back have had harder lives than those now determining their fate. They haven’t had familial or economic ease. No one sent them to Yale. They often come from considerable family dysfunction. This has left them tougher or harder, you choose the word.

    They’re more fatalistic about life because life has taught them to be fatalistic. And they look at these scientists and reporters making their warnings about how tough it’s going to be if we lift shutdowns and they don’t think, “Oh what informed, caring observers.” They think, “You have no idea what tough is. You don’t know what painful is.” And if you don’t know, why should you have so much say?

    The overclass says, “Wait three months before we’re safe.” They reply, “There’s no such thing as safe.”


  25. Richard, my mother’s family is from the Eastern Shore, and the Phoebus family are cousins of mine, so I feel your pain! When I read Michener’s “Chesapeake” it felt like I was reading my family history; in fact, my sister read it first and told everybody “Don’t bother reading it, it’s just the stories Granddaddy tells every Sunday!” I know what a hotbed of craziness that place can be.


  26. I have to shake my head when I hear about people stuck at home with nothing to do. Because of the nature of my job this is is only the second weekend I’ve had off since the lockdown began. Now I’m not whining. I spend 98 % of my work life on a laptop and I’m making gobs of money I don’t have time or opportunity to spend. I already make too much money to get the stimulus but I’ve made several times that amount already by being on call seven days a week. Believe me the irony of prospering while the economy tanks and many suffer is not lost on me. It bestows a certain responsibility on me that I will do my best to take seriously.


  27. My area of Lancaster CO PA is solidly Republican, as is most of the county, and solidly Christian, again as is most of the county. We have an enormous number of churches per capita, possibly the most in the country. Yet the local county officials are reopening the county, against the directives of the governor, and the large farmer’s market in my town called the Green Dragon, only open on Fridays, was packed yesterday, as photographs in today’s paper show, with hundreds of people, maybe even thousands over the course of the day, standing shoulder to shoulder without masks. Where I live, Christianity doesn’t necessarily involve “inconvenience to preserve the lives of those we love”; for some, it is more about exercising one’s “rights” without regard to the welfare of one’s neighbor.

    Well, I’ve only been to the Green Dragon once in the 13 years I’ve been here, and I for sure will never return now.


  28. Funny reference. My parents were just reminiscing yesterday about childhood in the Bronx. There was an old lady, a neighbor of theirs, who dumped water on them out the window to make them stop sitting on her stoop.


  29. I have been very fortunate. Both my wife and I have secure jobs. I work in a very small office, and have been the guy who still goes in every day. I answer the phone and pick up the mail and do whatever needs to be done with the paper files, but otherwise do pretty much the same tasks as before hand. The main weirdness is that the building is nearly deserted. I can go all day without seeing another person, even in the hallway or bathroom.

    My state of Maryland is dipping its toe in the reopening waters. I am skeptical. It has the air of “What we are doing is working, so we are going to stop.” I hope I am wrong, but I expect a resurgence of cases.

    Maryland has had an interesting dynamic. We are a very blue state, but with a Republican governor. In the past he has shown a real knack for governing precisely as Republican as he could get away with. He benefited from the Democrats having a veto-proof majority in both houses of the legislature, so he could express Republican pieties while vetoing a bill, without having any consequences. I have been fascinated by his response to the corona virus. He has for practical purposes been acting like a Democratic governor, with an aggressive response to the crisis. I am torn between commending him for this and noting that “not killing off your constituents for ideological reasons” is just about the lowest bar any politician could possibly be asked to jump over.

    In the meantime, by particular part of Maryland is solidly Republican. Maryland is Republican on the Delmarva peninsula and in the western part, but that Democratic stripe down the middle is where the bulk of the population lives. I have come to realize, though, that western Maryland and the eastern shore have different breeds of Republican. Most in my area are Main Street Republicans. I disagree with them on a vast swath of issues, but they understand that roads need to be plowed and potholes fixed, and even that good public schools are desirable. On most local matters, they are fine. There has been some grumbling about the restrictions, but nothing serious, and when I am out I see nearly 100% compliance with face masks.

    The eastern shore crowd runs more to the crazy. The state’s one Republican congressman is from there, and he has gone full loco. He compared the US to North Korea, strongly suggesting profound ignorance about North Korea (and, for that matter, the US) and complained that he was being prohibited from practicing his religion. I wrote a letter to the editor pointing out that he had not stated what religion that is, but suggesting Christianity, since Christians are explicitly told we do not need large gatherings to worship; and that we are commanded to love our neighbors, with the undeniable implication that we must willingly undergo inconvenience to preserve the lives of those we love. It was not printed. I didn’t expect it to be.


  30. I have to say, I’m enjoying this opportunity to finally slow down. I have been running from one responsibility to another for as long as I can remember. It seems our very identities depend on how busy we are. The more busy we are, the more better we feel. It’s like God is dumping water on us and making us focus on what is important.


  31. Yes they have. Unfortunately there is probably some copyright lawyer preparing a summons for them right now.


  32. I’ve found that setting rather easy goals for myself each day is working a lot better than trying to keep to some sort of disciplined and ultra-productive schedule. Each day I just try to walk for an hour, do some household chores for an hour, and do something creative for an hour. It’s not much, but it’s enough that at the end of each day I don’t have to feel like I just laid around and did nothing…


  33. Have you tried Tabletop Simulator? We’ve got a setup going where we each have it running on one screen and a video chat on another, so we can talk with each other and all see the same board at the same time.


  34. To tap out a message on a wall and hear an obvious tapping response, that would feel like real connection, not ideal, but meaningful in the way a conversation is. My experience is more like this: I tap on the wall — nothing in response; I tap on the wall again — nothing again. Repeat. Repeat — over and over. But no matter how much I tap on the wall, I don’t hear any tap in reply from the other side. Oh, once in a while in my life, I’ve felt like I heard a response, or a tap came even though I hadn’t been tapping. But no back-and-forth, give-and-take ensued, just one tap, or a couple, seeming to come from the other side, then more of the same non-response, and that left me thinking I had imagined the taps, or they were caused by some random event without meaning or communicative intent. Mostly now I just occasionally put my head against the wall and listen, until I lose the focus and energy, and then just go back to living my cell life.


  35. Soon after the quarantine hit, I got a Zoom account. But since my work decided to use another platform for their telemeetings, I’ve been using it to run D&D games. I now have two running regularly – one for our Old Gang who had broken up due to distance and family factors, and another for the genius daughter (and her dad) of my wife’s college roommate. It gives me outside interactions to look forward to, and things to work on in-between (worldbuilding has always been a favorite distraction of mine).

    Beyond that, yes, Simone’s and Mark’s words best describe where I’m at spiritually overall.


  36. Me working from home…

    1. What I like most…can get stuff done around house.
    2. What I miss most…seeing co-workers.
    3. What I don’t miss at all…Atlanta traffic.
    4. What I dread most…at end of WFH…having to repack all the computer equipment exactly the way it was originally packed.


  37. My job involves looking at files on a computer. BEFORE quarantine, I had to drive 18 miles to work to go into the office and sit in my cubicle. I don’t have a salaried position, I just get paid by the case. I could leave whenever I wanted but once I walked away from the computer; my work day was done. I would tell people, on occasion, that I could do this from home.

    VOILA – Covid 19 happens and the agency says; you can take your computer home and work from there. But since the Quarantine there have been less cases [ complex reasons ] and so I sit around twice the hours waiting for a new case to appear. So now I basically never leave work.

    THEN, I had to move my work station into my wife’s office. She has not been thrilled with that.

    I am fortunate in that my state is now basically open so I no longer feel trapped at home; though it was never mandated you must stay at home; but it was certainly encouraged.

    I suspect in the next month or so the agency will require us to bring our computers back to work and though I’m not excited about my daily 36 mile journey, I’ll know when I leave the building my work day is DONE.

    I have missed the old routine; missed seeing my fellow cubicle mates. We have a lot of laughter some days.
    But still I haven’t missed the driving to work in heavy traffic.


  38. ‘…Simone Weil, the French philosopher and mystic, wrote: “Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link.” I experience the absence of my loved ones, of my God. But without absence, can there ever really be presence? I’m not sure. Somehow, I think not. Every separation is a link. Absence creates a space where presence can be sought. And, just maybe, where presence can be discovered.’

    This quote from Mark Jenkins’ piece hits the spot for me, and mirrors some of my own experience these past couple of months.

    I’ve had a chronic health condition for several years that limits my movements so quarantine has felt like a more extreme version of my ordinary daily life, as I live alone. I’m fortunate enough to be retired so – for the moment anyway – finances aren’t too much of an issue. As for the future, who knows?


  39. Thanks for these, CM, every single one of them. Your mix of humor and poignancy was perfection.


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