This is the most unusual of Passover and Easter, Spring ceremonies – all unable to have the rituals of family gatherings, filled churches, music festivals and public celebrations noting the passing of death to life and resurrection. No school holiday camping trips. All the adaptations I am hearing about and seeing on line and even participating in a few myself are a testament to our species being great improvisers. There is a yearning though more than ever for human contact and my isolation, with all I need, makes the alone-ness a first world problem. Physical distancing is the privilege of the rich. Once again I am deeply reminded of Mary Oliver‘s question: What is it you plan to do with your one wild precious life?
We are in twilight, like crepuscular creatures coming out in the spaces between day and night on a threshold waiting for the new to begin and more importantly, the old to end. How we consider, reflect and make note of this time seems to be the work of isolation. If we go back to the used future we failing ourselves, future generations, other species and our Mother Earth. We would have missed the point, if it comes at the price of totalitarianism being birthed in fear campaigns leveraging on what it means to belong and who is in and who is out. In my own community this is being fueled by signs being put up in public places, by the local Member of Parliament, asking people to stay away if they don’t live in the same postcode. While it is a measure perhaps needed in coast side townships in what would ordinarily be a holiday destination, it is reaching into a base note in our herd mentality and will actually injure our spirit and capacity over time. It is not true, even in these circumstances, that we don’t need each other – in fact it is the opposite – we need each other more than ever. We will not be able to get this virus under control, in these pre-vaccination days, without mutual aid. At the international level it will be an age before borders can be relaxed and travel restrictions lifted. I can only imagine a future where those have loved ones inter-state, in other countries and indeed other continents will be able to touch one another again.
Activism in a time of twilight is gathering up what we have to take into the night and in equal measure what we need to take into the light. Like the Easter story we are in waiting for the dawn to arrive, the stone to be rolled away and the transformation from this cocoon to reveal new ways of making sense of the world and co-creating our shared future.
Just as the caterpillar is not like the butterfly, we have this opportunity to be completely transformed and travel in our world differently, seeing forms from new heights and perspectives, feeding on the same plants perhaps but with a much lighter touch, flying over landscapes with beauty instead of chomping our way through leaving a trail of destruction.
Praxis is what has underscored my activism over the years. Paolo Friere taught it is through education and building urgency, finding the restlessness, the experience of being impatient and holding onto hope while critically examining our oppression, that opens up the creative reflection and practical action. This is unlocked and unleashed in the learning process itself. We have this time, in our privilege, those of us in that situation, to be students to this isolation and learn what revolution it is calling us to, or from an element of this Christian season – what metanoia – what are we being called to turn around. There is nothing neutral here, we are called to be actors in our own liberation and work collectively to discover how we might go forward and those of us with the luxury of isolation can make this a time of activism where we examine our part in oppression and how we might come out of the pupa more mature and transformed.