A number of years ago, my daughter spent two weeks in the hospital just after she was born. Her physical space—an isolette—was so symbolic of the reality I was living as her mother during those weeks, and others that followed surrounding additional surgeries, illnesses, and hospital stays. Isolated.
It was so easy to forget who I was outside of those critical moments—my history, my future, my other identities. And even easier to fall into fear that our isolation as a family would lead us to be forgotten in our lives as members of a community.
Today’s first reading reminds us of the power of remembering. The Israelites did not remember who they were as God’s people, and to avoid God’s wrath, Moses had to appeal to God to remember their history.
And so it was with my times of isolation as a mother—I was given ways to remember who I was as a whole person. And found that, like Moses did for the Israelites, I had a community of people around me who would ensure that my family was not forgotten.
Remembering that time is serving me well today, as we all walk through this time of social isolation together (at least six feet apart). We are not all simply islands, alone in our homes. We are the ones who are charged to be like Moses—to be sure that those who are most vulnerable are not forgotten, that the most isolated feel love, that the best of our common, shared, public life as humans endures, even when a virus is wreaking such havoc on our world. Our isolation itself is a statement that we remember, that we will be that voice that protects the common good. Even in our isolation, we can remember who we are. We are a people who live our faith, who strive for justice, who live with compassion.
Kelly Swan has served as communications director for the Ignatian Solidarity Network since 2016. She grew up in West Virginia and is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University. Kelly has worked in parish social ministry, child and family advocacy, community education and organizing, and publishing. She lives in the Cleveland, Ohio area with her children.