Curbing Covid's Separation
by Sr. Joyce Lehman
Since the arrival of the pandemic, our little local community of three has been separated. One of the Sisters I live with is the administrator of our senior center where our independent, elderly Sisters reside. The 40 individuals who live there range in age from mid-70s to 101. Although they have small apartments, they share daily prayer, Eucharist, meals and meetings. They can participate in educational opportunities, exercises and entertaining guests, as well as activities like wrapping small bars of soap (like those found at hotels) with a hotline provided by the organization SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), in an effort to curb human trafficking. Those who live at the senior center represent a highly vulnerable population, so the decision was made to operate in a way that was close to a quarantine: no leaving the property, and no one who is not a resident or staff member coming into the building without following certain protocols. Protecting this precious human resource was paramount and called for extraordinary measures.
Hence the decision by two Sisters — the administrator and the coordinator of Sisters’ services — to move into the building with the others to provide assurance and assistance. So, since mid-March, our third community member has been down the road from us, and our little community has felt her absence.
At first, we would occasionally call one another to catch up on how everything was going in our worlds. However, to bring some kind of regularity in an ongoing chaotic world, we decided to call every day after the evening news to catch up. But we were still missing something. After about a week, it dawned on us that what we were missing was our daily common prayer with the three of us. So for the past two-plus months, each night when we call, we begin with evening prayer and then proceed to catching up, sharing stories, commiserating over the loss of human life and the suffering around the world, and generally just being community.
Although deprived of the Eucharistic liturgy, we have found a way of sharing the “bread” of spirit, mind and heart to sustain us.