Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 9 April 2020 --
It’s amazing how an unseen enemy can shut down the entire world and bring us all to a standstill. Presently 1,340,456 cases, 74,4242 deaths in 209 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances affected by a tiny virus. The curve is still rapidly rising. We are incapable of dealing with this crisis. The last few weeks have brought us to a standstill. Papua New Guinea has been protected by our loving God. He knows our limitations and has spared us from unprecedented disaster. We have two positive cases. Our response is one of listening, reflection and positive action that will propel us forward. Are we ready for the rhythm of discipline that this unique situation has taught us? Are we ready to learn from this irreplaceable experience?
The one word on the lips of every person is, LOCKDOWN. The reverberating message is loud and clear: Hygiene, Social distancingand above all ‘Stay Home’. The Reset button on our lives and our world has been hit. We are all invited to ‘Close for Maintenance’. Once we reopen, we should be renewed.
Hygiene:We are encouraged to wash our hands with soap for 20 seconds. This is to destroy the fat-based viral envelop that holds the nucleic acid of lipids and proteins. Studies show that people touch their faces on an average of 23 times an hour. This includes contact points - eyes, nose or mouth, which are points of entry of the coronavirus. Once the protein spikes enter the human cell they replicate, hence the need to break down this envelop. Our personal hygiene and healthy habits has given us a dignity for ourselves.
Social Distancing: Maintain at least a 2-meter distance between anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This is so that you may not breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 that any person may be carrying. “We have learnt social distancing as primary school kids where we stood at arm’s length from one another. Putting that into practice is essential”, said Jelta Wong, Minister for Health and HIV/Aids, as he addressed a meeting of church leaders and health workers at the Catholic Bishops Conference on 23rdMarch 2020. We respect ourselves and are reminded to respect others. Give each one their personal space to live and act.
Stay at home: Schools, offices, institutions have been closed for the period of the lockdown and the State of Emergency. A wonderful opportunity for us to relax, renew ourselves, pick up a task and catch up on a number of pending activities. While we do this, nature has the wonderful possibility to renew itself. The streets are empty, the roads are clean, the air is fresh, the waters are devoid of choking plastic bags. The birds return, fish swim free and we feel a freshness as we once again breathe in clean air. With resources stretched to the limit, those on the frontline tell us, “We stay at work for you, you stay at home for us”. It reminds us that we need each other. We need to respect each other, especially our elderly and the ones in danger.
This season of Lent makes us look inward and renew ourselves, our habits, our relationships. May COVID-19 and our lockdown draw us one step closer to our God, awaken in us the need of reaching out to people around us and care for our planet.
May we be filled with the Radiance of the Risen Lord. May His Light dispel all darkness, the tiny ones only we can see and above all the darkness of fear.
Happy Easter! May we be renewed during this time for maintenance.