Estas últimas semanas estamos queriendo compartir diferentes iniciativas y compromisos que vamos llevando a cabo ante este tiempo nuevo de confinamiento que nos está tocando vivir. Son maneras de dar respuestas y mostrar nuestra solidaridad a tantas situaciones que nos rodean. Desde diferentes ámbitos nos van llegando distintas iniciativas.
En esta ocasión nos llega en formato lectura. En este último mes, el claretiano Fernando Prado, director de Publicaciones Claretianas, ha escrito y editado dos libros que tratan de darnos luz y esperanza en estos momentos difíciles. El primero de ellos se titula “Tejer historias, comunicar esperanza” Es un tejido de historias escritas por periodiodistas que nos hablan del espíritu humano en tiempos de pandemia. Buenas historias que construyen un mundo nuevo y nos ayudan a reencontrar las raíces y la fuerza para avanzar junto.
El más reciente se titula “Cuando perdemos a un ser querido”. Un libro que es un instrumento para vivir y acompañar el duelo desde la fe. Unas páginas que pueden ayudar a comprender la situación ante la muerte de un ser querido y el duelo consiguiente que se desata en estas circunstancias.
Nancy Burgos, a Lay Claretian from Puerto Rico, Caribbean Region, reflects her experience of confinement on a daily basis through her blog. Today she also shares with us her life and testimony, once the 40 days of this situation have been reached.
Today, I celebrate 40 days of quarantine. And I am not wrong when I say "I celebrate" because it is certainly a reason for me to celebrate. When this period of confinement began, which at first was decreed for two weeks; I had a strange feeling, which I am sure we all had. Never before had any government given us such strong and precise orders that curtailed something as valuable as freedom.
We were asked not to leave our homes, unless it was strictly necessary and from 7:00 at night; under no circumstances. At first I was worried because I understood that such strict measures implied a serious situation. I was soon able to confirm this. I asked myself, how could I stay locked up in my apartment for 14 consecutive days? How could I not attend my work, how could I not see my family, my friends, the people of my community? How could I not participate in the activities of my parish community? And the pastoral projects? And my personal projects? Many unanswered questions.
At first, I thought I would face many moments of sadness, of bitterness. That I would be a victim of depression and that I would suffer from emotional paralysis. I barely slept the first few nights of the first week. My head kept thinking, analyzing, calculating. Meanwhile, my need to go deeper, my urge to transcend, was increasing. That's when I stopped. I chose to start living my quarantine not from logic, but from the heart. And everything changed.
I took up this blog, which I opened many years ago, but its address was not public. Here I had been placing some verses that have accompanied me throughout my life, perhaps with the idea that they would be captured somewhere outside a rustic notebook. It had been a long time since I had written here. And I decided to try to transcribe the thoughts and feelings that were being aroused inside me, in this special time. And I had the courage to dare to share them, with much fear, but convinced that this was what I needed to do at this time.
Many people talk about how many times the number 40 appears in the Bible. Noah experienced a transformation during 40 days of rain, Moses was transformed during his 40 days on Mount Sinai, David was transformed during the 40-day challenge against Goliath, Elijah was transformed when God gave him 40 days of resistance with a single meal, Nineveh was transformed when God gave the city 40 days to remain faithful, Jesus transformed the world after his 40 days in the desert, the disciples were transformed after spending 40 days with Jesus after His resurrection.
It seems that the number 40 is the "ideal" number to achieve a transformation. There are people who attach a lot of importance to numerology and spend time looking for hidden codes or messages in the Word. For me, it is enough to understand the spiritual process I have experienced during this time and to confirm that I am God's work and as such, He continues to recreate me.
When we are born, we have no control over our development. But we are responsible for the growth in our adult stage. During this time I have entered the quicksand of my weaknesses and limitations, but I am aware that I am not called to remain in that place. I have unscrewed from thought, ideas that atrophied my capacity for change. I descended into an unexplored world of my interiority and discovered an unsuspected, new, intimately inhabited space. I discovered myself accompanied and loved.
In these 40 days, I have been exposed to His Word for many hours. Also to people who possess great wisdom and who have enlightened me in many moments. I have listened to reflections, I have prayed, I have studied, but above all; I have valued the encounters I have had with the Risen One, through concrete and very simple facts.
One of them is the loving presence of my sister, present at all times. The blessing of being able to listen to my parents and my children, even if it hurts not to be able to sit at the table together.
Another beautiful sign of the Risen One is the friends during this quarantine. Those who always give me back my pure gaze, the essential vision of things. Friends who have been strength in my weakness and joy when I have felt discouraged.
Also, the meetings with Kaleo, my beloved community. We have continued to meet every Wednesday, as always. In spite of the absence of hugs and kisses, the fire that makes us vibrate and makes us brothers and sisters continues to be latent among us. We continue rooted and in love with our vocation as Lay Claretians.
Another evident sign of the Presence of the Risen One in these 40 days is the fruitful communication that we, the Laymen and the whole Claretian Family, have had during this time. Letters, text messages, telephone calls, initiatives of encounters by Zoom, Skype. A wave of love that has been reaching great heights.
My brothers, the Claretian Missionaries, have moved towards creativity and they have brought to fruition new ways of celebrating and accompanying. They have spread their wings and flown very high, lifting us up with them. They have reinvented themselves and shown without any shame their passion for their community.
So much so that we can thank the God of Life! I am deeply touched by these 40 days of learning, because I have grown, and suddenly, also matured. I have been able to share my impressions with many people through this Blog and its echoes have made me feel connected.
I lived forty days of listening, of silence, of words. Forty days, with the conviction of knowing Who I am following. And aware that this is what drives me to rise above my selfishness with a leap of faith. Forty days of feeling forgiven, redeemed, resurrected.
It seems that 40 days are needed for a transformation process. I wonder if I've made it, according to God's dream.
The lay Claretians of Chicago inform us of how the situation originating with the pandemic is being lived and how, in spite of the difficulties, they continue to fight for the rights of the immigrants.
Dear Brothers, we tell you how we are living the pandemic in our area. The general situation is:
At the federal level we are being attacked by the Department of Immigration Control Authority. So far it has done nothing about confinement in detention centers, where they keep minors, separated from their parents.
The offices of the citizenship and immigration services are closed.
The justice department closed the immigration courts, postponing all hearings of cases involving immigrants, who are not detained.
Immigration will change appointments for people who are not detained and who had an appointment to appear at immigration.
On the other hand, we have fought in recent years for proposals that would benefit Access to Justice for all including the undocumented.
This state law states that you:
a) You have the right to receive medical services regardless of your immigration status.
b) You can receive free testing, even if you do not have health insurance.
c) The public charge rule does not apply, if you receive testing or treatment for Covid19.
Both the Governor of the State of Illinois and the Mayor of Chicago have acted accordingly, supporting fellow citizens in both the state and Chicago. They were the first to call for confinement, on March 12.
Thus, Cardinal Blas Cupich also gave directives for the celebration of the Eucharist, such as: to receive communion under one species and to receive it in the hand and to make a gesture of vengeance in the rite of peace.
As in every corner of the planet, staying at home is a moment of grace for the domestic Church, for prayer, and for community and personal reflection. An enrichment, as we unite ourselves in the distance with the Universal Church, with the Holy Father in the morning Eucharist in Santa Martha. Also to be able to share with the sscc the celebrations, finding ourselves around the Lord.
At the local level, the collection centres have been overflowing, and information is being received and shared with immigrants and those most in need. Using all the technological means at hand.
In the Shared Mission we hold the meetings by zoom, with the NGOs so that we are aware of the changes that usually occur in what concerns immigration.
At the federal level there is an economic stimulus, which first came as a state proposal and was approved by the Federal Government:
Direct payment to taxpayers.
Extension of unemployment benefits.
Small business loans.
Dreamers (Deferred Action for illegal immigrants who arrive in childhood) are encouraged to renew their work permits and a temporary visa. Since they have grown up in this country. They are young fighters, and received their academic preparation.
At the moment the Executive Order, for the young people, is in the hands of the Supreme Court, as the current president says it was illegal. Let us pray that God will enlighten the judges; the decision will be made on April 20.
As of today there are about 203,000 DACA recipients, who are on the front line fighting COVID19 , as health, education and food service workers.
We hope to God that the Supreme Court will support the Executive Order. The reality is that right now the United States needs them more than ever. Without this being their home country, they are risking their lives.
We pray, giving thanks, to the God of life and ask Him to protect the Whole World, thanking Him for His tenderness with His children.