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COVID-19 virus came home last week - my home

By David Goguen

Wake up, America. Wake up!

The COVID-19 virus came home last week. My home, to be exact. As it turns out, my mother tested positive in the care facility where she now dwells. My brother delivered the news via smartphone, and there was a solemn silence in the moments after he finished telling me that she had been moved to an isolation area.

Silence is a good thing when facing such news. It provides a pregnant canvas for emotions to surface and fertile soil to plant the seeds of prayer. It brings clarity to one's priorities and, more importantly, it provides a space for memories to emerge.

For those of you who have sought to politicize COVID-19 on the right or left, know this.

My favorite memory of my mother came when I was a young man walking with her in the woods during a blizzard in Massachusetts. Our boots made muffled noises against the subtle static of falling snow. I let her get about 10 yards ahead of me and watched her as she took a walking stick she had picked up along the way and tapped the heavily snow-laden branches of the pine trees on the path. Before tapping a branch, she would say "wake up!" And the branches, suddenly free of their burdens, would spring up with vigor. At one point, it suddenly occurred to me that I was walking in her footsteps, deep tracks blazed in layers of freshly fallen snow.

There was silence then, as there is now.

In life we find the seams in otherwise smooth prayer beads. We become aware of them through the wisdom of an inner silence that guides us to purer thought.

As partisan ideologies on both sides of the political spectrum emerge in these challenging times, perhaps we would all do well to listen to silence before speaking and making decisions. Perhaps our own memories could help us choose more carefully the words we use. The actions we take.

When two survivors of a shipwreck point fingers at each other instead of embrace, the chances for survival are diminished. It's such a simple wisdom, yet without contemplation it becomes lost along with the virtues of empathy and compassion.

It's been over 40 years since I walked in my mother's footsteps in the snow. She is now in isolation and surrounded by heroes in scary suits. She is comforted by a stranger's hand. I still walk in her tracks, but now I have picked up the walking stick where she has dropped it. It is me who must tap the snow-laden branches and release them. Except this time, I feel compelled to say wake up, America. Wake up.

This story was posted on 2020-05-17 07:52:46
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