I open the window and breathe in the air, trying to guess the weather. Floating around, mixed, are scents and breezes alike; it’s hard to decipher these intricate clues.
It smells like dying snow, lying heavily on the sun-heated roofs. There is a smell of mouldy and wet earth, a smell of boiled meat comes from the neighbours, and the van that just passed my street, loaded with wood, left behind a stifling streak of diesel and burnt oil. Under the window a pink hyacinth blossoms, whose sight does not reach me, but whose scent I smell.
I put on my glasses. A buzzard struggles to fix its nest with some branches gathered from the orchard. A woman with a child walks along the street, both so silent, as if the masks they are wearing have covered some invisible hands over their mouths. Before the plague, mothers held their children by the hand, skin on skin, but now the rubber gloves do not let their warmth pass through the roots of the fingers to the chilled and puzzled babies.
Just yesterday, the Earth revolved docilely in orbit without shaking the tectonic foundations beneath our sumptuous edifices. The wind blew just enough to cool our bodies embraced by the warm rays of the sun.
We met, we kissed on healthy cheeks, we encouraged each other, we trusted each other, we felt strong together, we were invincible. The conviction that we had earned our right to well-being, to health, to peace, to happiness had nestled in us, quietly purring.
And, suddenly, the plague struck us, and our everyday normalcy was shaken to its foundations. For many of us, there is no routine left, life is swept away by a tsunami that demolishes bonds, beliefs, and uproots trust that seemed unshakable.
The cyclone of distrust catches us in its destructive whirlwind, and hatred awaits the opportunity to take the place of love. Let’s hate the Chinese, holding them responsible for the plague; hate the authorities for incompetence, for the shutters behind which the skin of the dying health system is peeling; hate resigning doctors defeated by fear or cowardice; hate friends who bombard us with fake news and urge us to gargle with salt water and to inhale steam; hate the diaspora returning home and spreading disease with their every sigh of relief; hate those whose ignorance affects us all; hate priests who share communion with their parishioners using the same spoon.
Maybe, in the end, scientists will invent a redemptive vaccine for this plague and we will be able to get back onto the path of our habits, or we will draw other paths. We will patch up our trust, we will make up for the losses, we will shake hands again, in the elections we will vote with Nimrod and will enthusiastically start the construction of a new tower of Babel. Not to mention that the seeds of hatred that have previously fallen to the ground will sprout like weeds in the glistening soil of fear, which remains nestled within us. Fear will creep slowly, like a satiated snake, through our fragile being, because now we know it can happen; that it can happen again and that the next time it could happen when we are alone…
How can we survive in isolation, loneliness and fear? Who will save us? Science? Faith?
Not only humanity, but we, as individuals, have gone through periods of faith and unbelief throughout history. It is difficult enough to believe you are the object of God’s indifference when it hurts, when you are hungry, when you are afraid. But what would it be like to lose Him completely, to live without the promise: “I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth”? (Jeremiah 33:6)
We may consider ourselves too wise to believe that God made Adam out of the dust of the earth, that he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and, as a result, that the world is not autonomous and independent, but is in the hands of the One who created it. Is the loss of immovable faith in a caring God the cause of mankind’s alienation? Is the loss of man’s personal faith in a real God—who cares, who sees, hears, feels, responds, who cries, and who rejoices—the reason for our fear and, sometimes, despair or even hatred?
Now we are left with these three: faith, hope and love.
Carmen Prisacaru loves literature and writes a blog dedicated to this passion: arcadiasolum.com