Corona Virus: The pains you have caused me.

This was the first pain! It was supposed to be a beautiful Sunday morning as usual, where we would have thrown our bodies in reckless abandon, shouting Hosanna to the highest heavens! But it wasn’t.  The number that came-in looked borrowed. Though they were the most courageous of all, with their eyes sparkling the Faith that kept them alive; the choir robes tossed by the jubilant winds, they couldn’t avoid looking back intermittently. Fear threatened their Faith.

Corona Virus did not scare them; the police did! As the police finally stopped by to carry out the governor’s nefarious orders, what was left in the church was a Credence Table, covered with white sheet and on it, bunches of abandoned palms. With a broken soul, I moved to the lit candles on the Altar, held one closed to my heart and blew my last breath. The Sunday may have failed, but our Faith grew stronger!

This was the second pain! The Friday was as it used to be, taking-up the serenity of a normal Sunday morning: quiet, lonely and beautiful! Our roads were not decorated with the pictures of the passion narrative. The doors of the church were shut against its members and its pillars stood there, lifeless and ghostly. A deadly sting of silence covered the earth, biting deep into the marrows of those who loved Him, like the reinforced thorns wired around His head.

The front doors were secured with an intimidating padlock. I turned the backyard, took the side door into the church, hoping to be the only soul who would dare to genuflect before the abandoned Altar. The crucifix stared at me and the droplets of moulded blood came-on alive.  “This place would have been filled by now, with the faithful kissing the cross of Jesus, one after the other.” All that was forfeited!

But with warmth, a familiar, sharp, ear-piercing soprano drew my broken attention to the left-wing of the church. Our lovely, beautiful, energetic and enthusiastic choirmistress had curled up by the edge of the front pew. Her voice and the song she sang sent shockwaves to my spine, inflamed by heart and enlivened my spirit.

As she proceeded to the first chorus, “Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,/To the cross where Thou hast died;/ Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,/ To Thy precious, bleeding side…”, I moved devotedly to the Altar, knelt on the floor, took the crucifix that was placed on the Altar table and planted a kiss at the foot of the cross. Electrifying flush of adrenaline surged through my veins as she began the second verse. The Friday may have failed, but our Faith grew stronger!

This was the third pain! The month of May gradually went down, with every evening of Rosary Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. With the distancing, so wide that you cannot hear the responses of your fellow congregants, the leader would wail the prayers over the public address system, in an asphyxiating degree of energy. How would we clearly hear a man who is speaking with his mouth and nose covered? But with the faith of a known prayer, the responses rose up from the dungeons of our hearts. Again, a single reassurance that we were not yet defeated.

But on the final day, at a grand finale, where we would have naturally proceeded with our lighted candles, saying and meditating on the four mysteries of our lovely Faith, we felt the most painful bite of Corona Virus Restrictions. We could only say one Mystery for apparent want of time – by 8pm, police, assisted by village touts, would harass you on the street. Consequently, we settled for the Sorrowful Mystery, a spiritually nourishing diet that begins from the agony of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane to the crucifixion and death on the cross.

We did not forget our candles, even under the heavy drizzles of rain. Thus, we rekindled the light that was given to us at our Baptism, to be a shining light in the face of impenetrable darkness of the world. So, in the face of darkness that Corona Virus had spelt on our globe, our lighted candles inflamed our hearts with faith, love, hope and charity. As Very Rev. M. Bassey, gently lifted the Blessed Sacrament to bless us, the golden monstrance rained upon us, rare rays of hope in a dying humanity. Again, the Sunday may have failed, but our Faith grew stronger!  

Idiongo Ebong

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