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Thursday , 23 December 2021

Finding the sacred in isolation

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Asther Bascuña Creo
Asther Creo is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia, where she’s lived for the last 15 years. Before that, she lived in Manila, Philippines, where she completed her Journalism degree from the University of the Philippines – Diliman. Asther works as communications professional in the daytime and is a mother to three and wife of a Catholic deacon. In November 2016, The Philippine Times published Asther’s first book Telling Stories. You can learn more about Asther on https://au.linkedin.com/in/asthercreo. Asther has been published in Kairos, Melbourne Catholic, Abbey of the Arts, and The Good Oil. She writes a column for The Philippine Times and has co-edited Climb the Mountain.

I am writing this towards my tenth week in isolation, brought on by the coronavirus. This amount of time varies for many of us, some who are immuno compromised have very wisely gone into lockdown within their homes very early on since the WHO declared a global pandemic. Others continued to go to work bravely, undoubtedly with high degrees of worry, as providers of essential services.

As for me, who has been working from home while supporting a primary school-aged child to learn from home, the ten weeks have gone by so fast …

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago when we were required to stay at home? Many of us have had to quickly adapt to new ways of doing things, and it’s a reflection on our resilience that we have been able to do so successfully. It is also a demonstration of our compassion that we have been able to extend a supporting hand to those doing it tough. All of these bring us hope that there is a lot of good – and a desire to do good – amongst us.

When time feels like it’s going by so fast, it is easy to brush off the need to pause and reflect on the learnings we can gain from our experiences. 

But there is beauty in silent contemplation. May I share with you my top three learnings from such a time?

When we are faced with a crisis, it’s easy to catastrophise even the smallest thing. As a parent, my child’s learning at home is something that has provided me the biggest challenge. If I cannot make him produce quality work for the day, he’ll fall behind. If I cannot make him answer his numbers correctly, he won’t be able to catch up. If I cannot instill in him independence in his school work, he will not grow up to be an achiever. It’s a constant battle in my mind and after a few weeks of this arrangement I have learned that significant amounts of deep breaths, patience and understanding help! I have also learned that prioritising wellbeing more than academic achievement is more important during these unusual times for children.

Being locked down for a long period inside the home can feel constricting, but it is possible to find – and claim – sacred spaces within yourself. In literature, interiority is defined as a character’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the situation. If we consider ourselves the writers of our lives and place ourselves as central characters to our stories, we can look at this year under the lens of self-introspection. Within ourselves we can be in sole control of our thoughts and feelings – or even the intentional and deliberate lack thereof.

We are all heroes. We are at war with a novel sickness that we are only just beginning to learn more of. We are, all of us, heroes – the elderly staying precariously within formidable aged care centres that are the bastion of their protection from an unseen enemy. Families who wave at friends from afar, keeping gazes low during the weekly shop, scrubbing hands raw and dry with disinfectants. Health workers, scientists, clergy and ministers, shop workers, people who ensure we have food and essentials on our tables, neighbours expressing acts of kindness to others. And the children, living during a confusing time, not being able to see their mates or go to playgrounds. Heroes all!

Life goes on. Ten weeks, can become 20, can become 50. But life will continue to go on.

(For comments or feedback, email asthercreo@gmail.com)

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