The spiritual value of quarantine

December 2nd, 2020

A few weeks ago, my husband tested positive for COVID. I dropped everything, hurried to the drive-through testing site, relinquished my comfort for a long-stick swab of my sinus passages, and prepared for 10 days of quarantine at home.

Next up was canceling appointments, rearranging my schedule and discovering a grocery delivery app. Soup and other comfort foods arrived at the front door. Like runners intent on training for a marathon, we boosted our immune systems at regular intervals with zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D and the like.

Along with my husband, I had some mild symptoms: sore throat, cough, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. But they passed after a few days. Then came the real test: would the constraints of quarantine be a blessing or a burden?

The first week was spent on a pre-planned holiday break. With no place to go, I was gifted with time, and the immediate presence of the artifacts of my life: half-finished projects, piles of papers, forgotten tasks, and Jerry, my husband of 20 years.

What I experienced during quarantine amazed me. I finished a project for a gardening group, submitted an almost-forgotten homework assignment for an online class, and cleaned out the pantry. I put things away that had solidified into semi-permanent fixtures on the kitchen counter. I took online yoga classes, settled into my body, and did downward facing dog next to my schnauzer, Beau. I held tricky yoga poses with better balance. I called family members and friends I had neglected. I attended online prayer and meditation groups in comfortable camaraderie with people I had just met. Most importantly, my husband and I resolved old impasses, broached new topics and found a new favorite series to watch. And we slept long hours.

I realized that I had been holding myself just so for many long months. Somewhat guarded, somewhat fearful. Quarantine changed all that. It brought me home to my body, my breath, my dreams, my soul, my home and my marriage. In a word: my life. 

By the way, my test results came back negative. (I must have had sympathy symptoms, my rhythms matching my husband’s.) Even so, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

I’m very aware that, for some, many even, quarantine can be a stressful and dangerous time, and I empathize with all of those for whom quarantine causes suffering. In my case, however, the burden of quarantine turned out to be a blessing.

As you plan to be home for the holidays, I want to invite you to join me in a spiritual retreat for Advent called Christmas Through Jewish Eyes. We’ll explore the main themes of the season: light, family and salvation. We’ll read the Bible in a fresh way, study the scriptures from a unique perspective, and witness the ancient light of Christ, alive in us and in the world. We may even do a little yoga!

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