2020 Q3

Isolation (A Quarantine Reflection)

As the sun sets, I face the dark night that taunts me with my goal.
We grope in the gloomy facets of twilight, warm with the hope
that in between the fleeting aeons we will burn in darkness;
but we have yet to see ourselves — lured from a night when ugliness has no face —
transfigured in the sun.

Weeks of sleepless nights and deepest thoughts have come to naught, or so it seems.
I flirt upon the edge of dreams.
Oh moon, whisper to me the innocence of your caress and spark a dawn,
which while it may not define us, will make us endure.

 

The coronavirus pandemic is bound to change our lives, not only at an individual level but as a global community with societal, economical and political repercussions.  Our routines give way to social distancing; our smiles are totally masked out; “back to normal” may be a thing of the past as this pandemic alters fundamentally the way we live.

Could the end be in sight?  Um, the virus that is…

With infection statistics still rising, one could be tempted to give in to desolation amidst our isolation.  Questions may give rise to more questions just thinking what could our life become after this pandemic?  Will I survive?  Will there be the next wave?  How do we cope?

Admittedly, we don’t have the answer.  Frankly, we still don’t have a cure.  But perhaps the allegorical Juan de la Cruz could take solace in the experience of his saintly namesake, to make sense of all this madness:

En una noche oscura
con ansias, en amores inflamada,
¡oh dichosa ventura!,
salí sin ser notada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada;

A escuras y segura,
por la secreta escala disfraçada,
¡oh dichosa ventura!
a escuras y encelada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada.

En la noche dichosa,
en secreto, que nadie me veia,
ni yo miraba cosa,
sin otra luz y guia
sino la que en el coraçon ardia.

Aquesta me guiaba
mas cierto que la luz del mediodia,
adonde me esperaba
quien yo bien me sabia,
en parte donde nadie parecia…

Once in the dark of night,
Inflamed with love and yearning, I arose
(O coming of delight!)
And went, as no one knows,
When all my house lay long in deep repose

All in the dark went right,
Down secret steps, disguised in other clothes,
(O coming of delight!)
In dark when no one knows,
When all my house lay long in deep repose.

And in the luck of night
In secret places where no other spied
I went without my sight
Without a light to guide
Except the heart that lit me from inside.

It guided me and shone
Surer than noonday sunlight over me,
And led me to the one
Whom only I could see
Deep in a place where only we could be…

*Excerpt from “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross

Joel Gabriel

"Fray Joel" entered the Dominican formation in 1990 straight out of high school. In 1993 he received the habit of the Order of Preachers while being admitted to the novitiate. He obtained his A.B. Philosophy degree in 1996 at the same time that he decided to take a leave from seminary life. In the secular world, he trained as a mainframe programmer with Citibank which started his career in Information Technology, and the rest as they say is history. Joel has been an IT practitioner all his professional life gaining experience and expertise with global companies such as Citibank Asia-Pacific, RCG-IT, IBM Solutions, Accenture and James-Martin/Headstrong. Based in the New York metro area since 2012, Joel is currently an IT Support Operations Manager with Genpact possessing over 15 years of success leading diverse technology projects within the Capital Markets and Financial Services industry and domain. Joel is happily married to Nancy Aquino-Gabriel.

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