How has the coronavirus crisis affected me, my life, my faith
Elijah Interfaith Institute Summer School, Jerusalem, 2nd August 2020
This time last year was my last full day in Jerusalem. The next day Saturday 3rd August 2020 I would fly back to England. While I was staying at Abraham Hostel I came across a leaflet (photo above)advertising an Interfaith Summer School. The school was occurring just as I was leaving. I put the leaflet in my pocket like you would a seed into the ground wondering what may happen. Sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes I check out the information. I checked out the institute and sent off an email. I connected with what they were trying to do and thought I would return to Jerusalem to be a participant.
I registered although I had only the time for one week. I had wanted to be out there for my birthday which was 4 days before the school started. I began arranging the trip in February and then, of course, the COVID 19 question arose. I decided to wait and see.
It was Monday 23rd March 2020 when Boris locked down the United Kingdom(UK).
We may have locked down but suddenly we were zooming. The Elijah Institute like most started to hold their gatherings by zoom. This meant that people could join them from all over the world. I can still recall the excitement as I waited on the chair to ‘zoom into’ Jerusalem. I still get something akin to the feeling I experience when a plane lifts off when I press the zoom button. As the circle swirls, I do internally and like a crew member of the Enterprise, I am beamed into a location.
Attending the ‘Pray for Jerusalem’ meeting via zoom increased my connection to Elijah and I was relieved when they announced the summer school would go ahead via zoom.
It starts today and the title is our question of the day. So how has it affected me? I think I have already answered the question with what I have written. I have known one person to die due to it so the reality of COVID 19 or our response to it is that I have discovered a new medium.
Prior to COVID, I dismissed the idea of our faith community meeting on line. We are Quakers so silence doesn’t say a lot online yet once we couldn’t physically meet I was the first to show my face on the screen. And once I got used to it (actually it was the different way of living under COVID I9 that I had to get used to) I was zooming to Australia, South Africa, mainland Europe and the United States as well as Jerusalem.
I can see that zoom has been a positive distraction so much so that it almost has anaesthetised my reaction to the regulations that were implemented in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID.
As I check back on my stories I can see that I started a daily challenge related to it in March and continued for weeks.
Initially, it brought back a similar feeling I experienced during ‘The troubles’ in Northern Ireland. A feeling that we were all under threat.
The idea and the practice of doing everything from home freaked me out for almost 7 weeks. I felt imposed upon that I was being told this is how it will be without being asked. That matter has not been resolved although I have come to live it.
I have become more local. I rarely drive and enjoy a weekly walk from the village to the city. I know more people in my vicinity to say hello and I like being local.
I actually bought my first lap tap for the summer school as my old ‘hand me down’ was unable to upgrade when zoom did at the end of May. So zoom has become a positive part of my life in response to COVID.
If I have a fear about zoom it is that it may make me content to stay at home. Even today I feel as if I am on holiday just by the effect of knowing I will be back in Jerusalem in an hour.
Faithwise most of my zoom activities relate to my spirituality as the majority of meetings are worship. I feel more connected with the world though have to also accept that not everyone is connected to zoom.
I would add to the question, ‘ and how I relate to others’. I am relating but zoom has become a way of relating and I got the feeling like what I was saying about not needing to leave home that I can relate via zoom. Of course, I can but I can’t limit my relationships to on-screen.