Fear gives way to quiet in the wake of COVID-19

In a letter to the editor, Rev. Robert Forman writes, "But this time of quiet sheltering in place has its own truth - just today, just now."

To the editor:

When this thing first started, about a week and a half or two weeks ago (only that?), I was living with a great deal of anxiety and dread: afraid for me; afraid for my wife; afraid for my kids; afraid for my friends both local and distant; afraid for the country, led by that blazingly incompetent narcissist; afraid for the world. And it all seemed so damned open-ended, which it still does. I’m still scared, mostly for my kids, and pissed off at DJT.

But a few days ago, a kind of peace came over my days and rhythm. I’ve been feeling a kind of grace in the middle of the whole thing, a quiet. Yes, I’m still afraid. Yes, I’m still worried. But there is somehow, in a way I do not understand, a kind of quietness, as well — in being in my home, this marriage, this life and this moment. The word “holy” comes to mind. Holy rhythm? Holy patience? A sense that this is not open-ended but that, someday, somehow, this, too, will pass. We’ll be stubborn; we’ll do what we can. We may get sick or, God forbid, die. But this time of quiet sheltering in place has its own truth — just today, just now. When I can be in the moment, as so many teach us, this very moment is quiet.

The downy woodpecker that lives outside my window is on the suet feeder just now. The oak is just showing its hint of green. The light is sharp today. Somehow nature is going on just as it always has. And my panic seems held in a kind of quiet sanctity.

Rev. Robert Forman
Great Barrington

The writer is a chaplain at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.