“Living alone during Covid 19 is a special challenge” says a friend
who I met a generation ago: it was another time, another place.
New cultural connections crossed old boundaries then, beings met
in places unfamiliar to all, and became familiar, connected, alive.
Those living connections lay dormant for a generation, but now,
that most wondrous invention of human ingenuity – Facebook –
enables re-connection across time, across space, across chaos.
C19 throws us back a generation or three, to times beyond our living.
Lived memories of the Spanish flu died with my grandparents,
but their children, my uncles and aunts, my mother, remember
stories of poverty, of want, of closure – and of common care. We
who followed are learning of pandemic and depression anew.
The book of faces connects us in the moment to the pain, the loss,
the fear and anxiety, uncertainty, chaos, the isolation of billions
of individual lives shut down, staying home to save each other,
to save others unknown. The book of faces reminds us of 1918.
Photos of a century ago show us mobilisation and isolation,
physical distancing and hospital wards stretching to the dark.
Are we living along, dying alone, separated by fear and chaos?
Or are we weathering a storm, seeking shelter in place, to care?
Julian my friend from long ago, many are with you now, I know,
for your book of faces shows me your abundant connections
around the world: family, friends, colleagues; and each would
– if they but could – reach out to touch you with care, and love.
You bring joy to others’ lives with your joie de vivre: appreciation
of food, and faith, of friendship, of fashion, of local community
and global connections, of family … did I mention food yet? Oh yes,
appreciation of good food, good cooking: fellowship and hospitality.
In this time of separation, of physical distancing to show our care
for others we have not even yet met, keeping our front line safe,
may you still feel the touch of friends and family upon your heart
and your very soul, for we – around the world – are with you now.
Not only now, and not only with you, but with others too, alone
who wonder about living alone, and dying alone. What would we
do to avoid being alone at this most vulnerable of times? Death
comes to us all in time; but not yet, not now, we pray to our God.
May health and comfort be yours, this day, each day,
until this time passes too into memory,
where it will remain as reminder and spur to appreciate friendships formed,
relationships from birth or moment, connections to other living beings,
life lived in whatever span we have.
May faith and hope be yours, this day, each day, until this time
passes too; and may love and life be yours in abundance, alone
or surrounded by the cloud of your connections that span this globe.
Alone, or not alone, you are treasured and held, eternally, in Spirit.
Rohan Pryor, 9/4/2020
Rohan met Julian Gurupatham in 1991 at a regional youth gathering for the Asia-Pacific, held in Hong Kong and hosted by the Christian Conference of Asia and the World Student Christian Federation