Before the pandemic hit our country, while it was being talked about during the ‘world news’ segment during the news bulletins every day, I was just about to enjoy true freedom. I had finished my final examinations late last year and passed. This superseded my parents’ expectations. Soon after, I enrolled in French classes as I waited for the outcome of where I will be placed in the numerous public universities in our country. Truly, I was at the point where I could spread my arms out and run carefree.
Until the first case was reported, my heart began to beat so fast. I suddenly began to fear for my life. My formerly wide arms drooped, as I watched the news. What was international news was now among us. The coronavirus had begun making its dwelling here. My heart crumbled as I heard all kinds of restrictions were put to control the spread; social distancing which meant no church, no hangouts, and I had to abruptly stop attending French classes. It was too much to take in at the same time; from being able to be with friends and acquaintances to being ‘forcefully’ quarantined at home, or if you really had to get out, you had to leave with a mask together with a bottle of sanitizer. They were novel to me, so I shied away from coming out. If all these were too much to take in for me, what about St. Josemaria?
He was a dedicated priest, caught in the Spanish civil war, that was targeting, among other groups, priests and nuns. He had to disguise himself, to protect himself and ensure that his priestly obligations were met. I can only imagine what he was thinking, his heart must have been in the mouth each time he encountered a soldier while praying for someone, or blessing them. He probably knew that each day he lived was his last and he was determined to do as much as he could as a priest to serve the faithful. At one point he had to act mad in a mental asylum, as things became worse and worse…and had to make a voyage across extreme cold routes to get past the civil war.
Personally, I found this unexpected season of confinement really hard. I had to make an adjustment to my thinking and make it positive. There are times when I doubted whether we will make it as a country, other times when I was vexed by my own countrymen’s lack of caution. I realized that I got easily drained by doing it on my own and I plugged into God’s word as my source of inspiration. The more I did so, the lighter I felt, and the easier it was to get through the worst days of the pandemic. I’m also sure that St. Josemaria prayed a lot, and that was where he got the courage to face another new day. (Apart from that, memes from social media kept me in a light mood.)
Another thing I had to adjust was how I spent my time. I was used to being out there, that I found it hard to use my time well during the time of confinement. I decided to follow up on the interests I had and picked on the ones that I could do. I continued teaching myself how to play the violin, began blogging, learnt how to make delicious dishes out of the usual ones we have at home, and decided to continue learning French online. Apart from that, I would occasionally have video calls with close friends and play games together, laugh, and talk. Those really helped in alleviating the pain of not being able to hang out and enjoy life in general, and it taught me values like patience, endurance, and temperance.
My relationship with my family also changed, in a drastic manner. I was so used to not having conversations with my father, that when the dusk to dawn curfew from 7.00 pm was implemented, I felt confined. I used to ‘run’ away from him, early enough, so that he doesn’t think I’m ignoring him. But after a month, we slowly began having conversations. I admit I initially found it weird, but right now I appreciate where my relationship with him is. My other family members quickly adjusted to the confinement and always found creative ways of bonding and keeping everyone else ‘sane’. We played games, had occasional walks and had interesting conversations during dinner time. During this pandemic, I’m glad to say that my family drew closer than ever before.
Finally, I’ve drawn a lot of lessons from the unprecedented pandemic. First, no one’s plans happen by accident, God plans for them all, because if I were to ask you, you didn’t include a pandemic on your yearly planner, right? God has a reason for everything happening, and we might not understand the why immediately. Secondly, relationships are really important, with God, with your family, with your friends…they personally kept me sane during this period. Third, I have come to develop virtues in me, such as patience and respect for people and their opinion, and realizing that everyone has their own point of view.
And finally, I realized that the most important asset all human beings have, is time. We all have equal amounts of time, but we all have different uses of them. Make the most out of the situation you are in, like St. Josemaria, who despite being in the middle of a war, continued blessing the faithful and remained courageous till the end…and it bore fruit because he was able to actualize his mission of founding Opus Dei. What if he gave up on the way? Would we have Opus Dei today?
This article was written by Joy Kamene, a Bachelor of Commerce student.