Solitude and the Virus | An Unexpected Silver Lining

Solitude and the Virus | An Unexpected Silver Lining April 12, 2020

solitude virus unexpected silver lining
Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

The other day while gardening, I dug into the earth, a mound of loam, with a net. I sifted it into a pail, pulling out stones and weeds, and put the now clean soil into another big container, filling it up. Then we made slices of tomatoes, watching on YouTube how to grow tomatoes from seed; because of social isolation, we could not go to the stores to buy the plants.

I felt very proud of myself, patting the black soil with my bare hands and digging my fingers into it. I felt the hard work within the slight pull in the muscles of my body, and the realness of tough labor. I felt the oneness of God in the sun blazing down on my head and the moist dirt on my hands. It reminded me how as a child I would play in the dirt, and how my grandmother would sift dirt and loam and make gardens and terraces. I was forgetting what was going on in the world.

There are hundreds of blooms on all my different roses, and beautiful blooms of lavender. The plum tree has tiny little fruits. I have beautiful irises that look straight out of a Van Gogh painting. All of this is a paradox to what is going on.

I take walks around the neighborhood. Usually the streets are mostly vacant when I walk. Now, families sit outside on lawn chairs. Children are running down the streets or riding bicycles. Mothers are walking with their baby carriages and strollers. It took this virus to make families to spend time outside and together. Inside, people are making real meals, and learning how to make bread and other recipes they are learning on YouTube. Husbands and wives, partners, are truly falling in love again.

This virus reminds me of the Jewish people who were under Pharaoh’s rule while they were still in Egypt. It reminds me of social distancing, we have to go through strict isolation. We are over sixty and have to have our food and medication delivered. I remember the story of Nimrod, where he tried to escape death by hiding in a deep room within his palace, but death still found him. But if God chooses, he can save you from death, like he did with Ibrahim and the fire. He made the fire like a garden of roses, like my own garden of roses.

Usually the streets are mostly vacant when I walk. Now, families sit outside on lawn chairs. Children are running down the streets or riding bicycles. Mothers are walking with their baby carriages and strollers. It took this virus to make families to spend time outside and together.

I think of how far we have come away from God; how materialistic, greedy, racist, uncompassionate, uncaring, and selfish we have become. This is really hitting home. Someone we care about could die, or we ourselves could die. We are stuck together with members of our own families, which we probably have not had a meaningful conversation with for years, or children that we have not really dealt with emotionally because life is too fast. We have a lot of time reflect, with so much time on our hands and so much on our minds.

Life has become precious. Our families have become precious.  We go outside for reasons besides taking care of our lawns—we actually go outside to enjoy nature. Everyone is affected the same way, whether you are rich or poor, no matter the race or age.  Many are losing their jobs and livelihood. Many have started to pray and meditate and have become spiritually inclined. People are beginning to look to God, nature, and the universe for mercy and answers, even though places of worship are closed. Crime is down. Our skies are clear of pollution, for once. This may even affect climate change.

This morning I was up at dawn and opened the door to cool air, and the birds were singing so beautifully, and the mourning doves were cooing. I began to sing Morning Has Broken—my song in the morning as a tribute to the God of the Woods I grew up with. Later on, the sky is a sharp blue and within my garden the fountain gurgles like the brooks of my childhood, and angels dance within the wind chimes.

Many have started to pray and meditate and have become spiritually inclined. People are beginning to look to God, nature, and the universe for mercy and answers, even though places of worship are closed.

I was very depressed for a few days, but now I am at peace with this. I want this virus to happen to no one that I know. But I know that in any bad situation God is showing His face, in the now precious moments like digging holes in gardens, and families dedicating themselves to each other, and the caregivers, and the change in people’s hearts, in this beautiful day with a sharp blue sky.

I hope to see my unborn grandson when this is through, and to hold him in my arms. I hope to teach him things like kindness, compassion, and appreciation for the earth, and the arts, something to pass on to a new generation if we can pass this test. He is my hope; he keeps me isolated now, so that I can be with him later. He is my will to survive, and for my whole family to survive.

About Stephenie Bushra Khan
Stephenie Bushra Khan is a converted Muslim, a poet, and local artist in Temecula, California. She is originally from Winchendon, Massachusetts. You can read more about the author here.
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