Trapped Inside

We may be confined in the current lock-down, but I'm finding that in other ways it may be a path to freedom.

I’m free, as of today. Free, that is, of the two weeks of self-quarantine imposed after I reportedly had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. Free from the daily calls from Public Health to inquire whether I’ve been observing restrictions, and whether I am showing any symptoms.

Now I’m free to drive to the supermarket (providing I’m wearing my mask, of course). But that’s about it! Where else can a person go these days!

Well, one direction we can move is inwards. As we are constantly being reminded during this virus confinement, we can spend time in reflection (or prayer, if you will). We can take stock of who we are, what we are doing with our lives, where we are in our life’s journey. We can use the reflection time to sort out and strengthen the priorities in our lives.

If this sounds a bit pious, even from a Jesuit priest, let me share with you a little of what this has meant for me.

As I sit in solitude, I’ve found myself replaying events in my own life–recent and from the deep past. As these memories flash into my head, I’ve found myself opening my heart more than I ever imagined I could. For one thing, I’ve been forgiving past wrongs, real or imaginary, that have been done me. Some of these memories go back to high school days, some to dealings with other Jesuits, some to encounters with academic adversaries over the years. For some reason, as I replay these events and stare at the “villains,” I find myself telling them “Don’t worry about it. The past is the past.”

Then other faces flash in front of my mind’s eye–faces of those I myself have hurt over the years in big ways and small. I am finding it much easier, in these days of confinement, to admit the damage done and to ask them to pardon me. (Have any of you felt the vibes lately?)

Healing requires time, but we have a lot of time these days. Time to allow the deepest parts of ourselves to be healed. Time also to accept those calls we’re receiving–pleas for companionship in a time of solitude–and share what we have with others.

So here I sit, the personal quarantine ended, but still confined to my quarters. Even so, something is changing. I may be trapped in my room, but not quite so much anymore in my heart. In one way at least, lock down is ending.

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About the author

Francis X. Hezel, SJ
Francis X. Hezel, SJ

Francis X. Hezel, SJ, is a Jesuit priest who has lived and worked in Micronesia since 1963. At different times he has served as high school teacher, school administrator, pastor, and regional superior to the Jesuits of Micronesia. He spent thirty years directing the Micronesian Seminar, a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Pohnpei, Micronesia. He has written and spoken widely about social change and its impact on island societies. He has also written several books on Micronesian history, including The First Taint of Civilization, Strangers in Their Own Land, and The New Shape of Old Island Cultures. His most recent book, Making Sense of Micronesia: The Logic of Pacific Island Culture, is available through University of Hawaii Press.