Celebrating 40 days of quarantine

  Caribbean region

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.


Nancy Burgos, s.c