Recently I was asked to contribute to the West Central Europe Being Marist Newsletter, the below article was published at the end of May 2020 on my reflections of the Covid-v19 pandemic and my awareness of impact and change.
Our daily normal has been changed significantly in the past few months, the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, has transposed and imposed limitations on our day to day lives. In a short period of time, our daily normal has become a lot less normal.
Mundane and practical tasks like going to the supermarket, now require strategic preparation and planning. Advance mind mapping of shopping lists is required now, following arrows on the supermarket floor, left, right, straight on, and every ten feet a warning to remain 2 meters apart. Waiting in a queue to get into the supermarket has also become normal, a long line of 2 meters by 2 meters moving silently forward.
During the lockdown, supermarket shopping has been restricted to one trip per week, over the period of several weeks I had observed items missing from the shelves. The first few were obvious, hand sanitiser, toilet rolls, the latter making headline news. How on earth did our ancestors managed to survive without 3plye, quilted, super soft lou roll. By the end of week three, food products began to create gaps in the shelves, pasta, eggs, and flour. Relieved to see the toilet roll replenished in week four, I was not prepared for the gap in the shelve in week five.
On my list in week five was a card, I had mapped this out at the end of the shopping trip before checkout. The stationary aisle was remarkably quiet, I did not have to constantly look up to make sure the person 2 meters in front of me hadn’t stopped, or that the person behind me wasn’t getting to close as I stopped to pick items off the shelves. The stationary aisle was empty, now to get the card. A long six-meter row on three levels presented a multitude of cards for all occasions. I knew the card I was looking for was at the far end on the bottom shelve.
A gap had been created where the cards should have been. The absence of cards produced a shape not dissimilar to that of a small head stone, leaning back. There had been no effort to hide this gap, to shuffle other cards into the space. For several moments I stood in silence, head bowed in recognition of the meaning the gap presented. How many sympathy cards would there have been in this gap, how many of my local community had lost someone. The numbers reported in the news each day and recapped at the end of each week now presented a reality.
I offered up a prayer to the recipients of the cards, and to those who would find only a gap. The gap left behind by the absence of the sympathy cards has stimulated me to be mindful of the gaps not yet identified and to pray that we as a Marist community are resilient upon their discovery.