To Be in a Time of Pandemic: Sheltering in Place
By S. Martha Walsh
Shelter in place. This seemed like an unimaginable situation in the United States; a virus that could not very quickly be controlled. Imagination or not, it is the situation for many. The first thought I had was what I could not do sheltering on the sixth floor of Assisted Living in Mother Margaret Hall. But, gradually, this began to change into seeing the situation as a blessing, not denying the challenges. The blessings have come from all the staff in Mother Margaret Hall, who have cared for us with cheerful attitudes; this includes all support services: nursing, activities, environmental services, maintenance, and nutrition.
In addition, and importantly, were the powerful prayer services provided twice a day by our Sisters in the Motherhouse, which included readings from Scripture, personal reflections, and other readings. One that has ‘not let me go’ is a poem, The Winds of Change are the Winds of Grace by Brian Luke Seaward. The first line reads: Disturbing are winds of change…; the first line of the second stanza: Comforting are the winds of grace…; and the third and final stanza begins: Blessed are the winds of grace … These words have frequently run through my mind like a mantra. Every prayer service has included intentions for all who are suffering from the virus, for all the workers who continue to make the wheels of care continue, and for those confined to place. This is not just locally but globally, and it is just a small taste of the many prayers we have shared.
One day I realized my vantage point in these televised/livestreamed prayers was sitting at the side of the camera in the choir loft. Then the realization came: I was not alone. All the Sisters and Associates watching were there with me.
I have been able to continue to paint (novice that I am), have begun to crochet a baby blanket, and have found time for extra reflection. This situation of ‘sheltering in place’ has also brought to mind the idea that the more important question is not what should I do but what should I be, prompting me to desire to change some of my behaviors. I will just ‘confess’ one I desire to change. I am a procrastinator. For a person who thought I would be ready for canonization after I made First Vows, at 84 this and many other struggles continue, but I am glad to have been reawakened to this.