Manly Lessons from My Quarantine Room

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Living in a world with COVID has its ups and downs. Whether you are vaccinated or not, getting COVID is a reality for all of us still. I know so many who have been vaccinated, boosted left and right, and are still dealing with this pesky virus. Take me for instance, I got it in the spring and now am dealing with my second round of it in the summer. While the fear is not as great as we were all made to believe at first, my family and I are taking precautions to make sure others in the family don’t get it so I find myself in my children’s bedroom quarantined for at least 10 days.

Being shut down physically has its own benefits, but I’ll admit it takes some intentionality on my part to find the value of the suffering in this now commonplace and annoying life interruption.  Still, I am blogging to share my quarantine thoughts both to feel and stay productive, but also share insights into what God is revealing to me and hopefully to the benefit of others.

The first benefit of quarantine is humility.  Is there any greater virtue than humility?  I believe St. John Vianney, the patron of parish priests, once said, “There are three virtues: humility, humility and humility.”  Humility is like the chain in the rosary.  Take the chain out of the rosary and all the beads fall to the ground.  Take humility out of the spiritual life and all virtues vanish.  

It is humbling as the leader, protector and provider of my family to be harnessed in such a way.  I have my routine and I thrive on such.  Every morning I am up first, still am, but prior to this bout of COVID, I would go downstairs, do my morning prayer, make coffee, prepare breakfast for my family, and help them get their day started well.  Whether I had travel or meetings outside the home, I would still do this.  Now, I must let my wife and my children handle all of these duties while I sit in my quarantine room.  

This has been very good for me because it brings the aforementioned virtue of humility, but enables others to do for me.  It enables the children to thrive more and feel like they are contributing to the family by helping their mommy and daddy.  I celebrate their contribution and their effort.  It has been a wonderful litmus test to see the type of children we are raising.  So far, they all seem to be contributing, even the little ones. 

As the protector, I am up first as I said and, always, last to bed.  Not anymore.  I used to close down the house at night with lights, door locks and everything made secure.  My daughter Ava would always ask me: “Dad, did you lock all the doors?”  It makes me feel great to know that she entrusts me to do this for her.  She knows that when I say, “Yes, honey!” she is safe and at peace to fall asleep.  Well, guess who is locking all of the doors now?

The second benefit of quarantine is the time alone.  While in a house of 9 people, you might think that is an easy and almost welcomed benefit, but in truth, I struggle still to claim this benefit for myself.  The silence that you experience is quite deafening in your heart and mind when you sit in a room by yourself for a prolonged period of time.  For an extrovert, like me, it is a real challenge.   Not contributing and not really knowing the things that are going on at times is maddening, but it is something that I know I must surrender.  Ah, surrender!  We will talk more about this in a minute, but suffice it to say that the time alone can be a real blessing if you allow it to penetrate you.  

The alone experience or solitude has given me time to think, reflect and ponder how my family, my ministry and my life is going.  It is truly a wonderful opportunity to take stock of where things are in my vocation, good or bad. To further reflect on these matters and how it affects marriage and family life, I believe, is good for a husband and father to do.  I should note that my son was in quarantine with me for the first couple days of my quarantine and I found myself asking him questions and listening to the way he is living his life and conducting his time in quarantine with great enthusiasm. This time alone with him, albeit brief, has been a real gift. 

The third and last benefit of quarantine is the painful but essential surrender.  Surrender, and specifically surrendering to God, as I was once taught, is not defined as giving up, but giving over.  Placing all your concerns at the foot of the cross.  I have needed to place my wife and 7 children at Calvary each day of my quarantine.  I cannot lead, protect and provide for them in the usual way and so I must entrust them to the care of Jesus and the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  What else can I do?  And who better for them to be in the care of?  

It is difficult knowing that your wife needs you physically; perhaps to change a diaper and give her a much-needed break.  It is very stressful knowing that your wife needs you emotionally and yet you cannot offer her such.  Only your prayers and uniting your suffering in this short-lived time to Christ on the cross is all that is necessary.  Surrendering is actually very freeing.  Won’t we all have to do this one day when we take our last breath on this earth?  Won’t we have to entrust our loved ones into the care of others and God’s providence?  The answer is a profound YES!  

So, quarantine, while inconvenient and certainly frustrating, has great benefits I am learning each day.  I hope you enjoyed my ruminations on this brief pause in my busy life.  If not, it has helped to write these thoughts down for you to read, so thank you.

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