We all have heard that: "Out of bad things good things can happen." This is the case for me.
I have been quarantined for 14 days after visiting my family outside of Canada. This is for me the very first time I experienced isolation. It is well known that mandatory isolation is a way to care for others, and that is what Jesus himself told us: "love your neighbour as yourself".
Being confined is terribly hard, even though you have food, a home and, in an emergency, you can always call someone to talk to, but you do not have the freedom to go for a simple walk down the street, the gym is closed, and you cannot socialize with friends…truly it is hard!
Since the pandemic started a year ago, we have come to know that for many people it was a time beyond painful and very distressing. Some were desperate, suffering from mental health issues because their interaction with others was cut off so quickly - limited freedom. Moreover, in certain households the conflicts were present and occasionally they got violent, the anger levels increased in these households. There were cases in which some people could not handle it and the result was to take their own life. Incredibly sad, but it happened.
A physician told me that he has never dealt with so many patients suffering with depression as he has during this time.
No doubt, the most shocking of my past experiences was the realization of the suffering of prisoners. For years I worked in the prisons of Colombia, USA, and in the Missions. Yes, I tried my best, but something was missing. I know that my words and attitude of consolation were there, but still I needed to connect the dots. It was through my isolation that I found the piece that was needed to connect with those inmates. The reason was very blatant, I had never been isolated for so long.
Right now, I can remember many of those inmates, they were inside the prison in body, but their souls and desires were totally outside. The constant cry of most of them was about their families, their friends, feeling totally isolated, and in many cases abandoned even by their own family and friends.
That realization is reaffirming our true condition as human beings, our very nature as social persons, created to be in relationships with others. So, when that true nature of ours is being denied, we get lost!
There were many other lessons that I will keep with me, like the people who, out of their general goodness, prepared for my isolation and provided for me what was necessary, and those who called me asking how I was doing and offered their help in case I needed anything.
This whole experience has caused me to reflect a lot more, that I need to change into a more compassionate, loving, caring person and forever value my relationship with God, with my family, with my friends, and parishioners.
Fr. Carlos Sierra
February 5, 2021