I read widely from non-mainstream authors and newsgroups. Today, this article, “FYI Archbishop Justin Welby, Jesus Would Not Approve,” prompted me to reminisce on my experience around the Church during the pandemic with this commentary, copied in full here:
Contemplating The Crucifixion Clouded by COVID-19:
April 10, 2020 was Good Friday. Normally, the Catholic Church across the street would have been filled with worshipers for Good Friday services. One of them would have been my 98-year old mom, even though wheelchair-bound and befuddled by dementia that would take her later that year on November 18th (three years ago from today, the date of Dr. Tess Lawrie’s article here.)
Frances, my mom, was a life-long, fiercely and genuinely devoted Catholic, deeply involved with her faith and the religious community around it. She could not grasp that the Church would be vacated, forbidden by nationwide lockdown mandates. She had no concept. She pleaded, feebly and repeatedly and I did my best to soothe her distress and confusion.
At that point, I had been her round-the-clock caregiver for more than two years with nary a single day off. The grief and the stress had already destroyed me, body and soul. With family help, I had arranged for relief caregivers (staff from a nursing home in the neighborhood) to come and assist me for a few hour each day. Then the lockdowns came, the relief caregivers gone and I was once again left to care for a terminally-ill mom on my own.
On that bleak, overcast Good Friday afternoon, there was no way I could express my profound sadness for my mom and my own deep sense of desolation except through art.
The vision in my mind was one from Catholic grammar school art class in the nineteen-fifties when our teacher, Sister Bernard Joseph, introduced us to Salvador Dali and his painting, Christ of Saint John of the Cross. The dark, brooding imagery of Christ hovering over the earth and above the sea and the mind-bending top-down perspective stuck with me to this day.
I used that same perspective to illustrate three crosses rising far above an earth-sized coronavirus molecule set in a desolate stormy sky. The artwork, should you wish to view it, is posted here: https://imagined.com/blog/good-friday-coronavirus-at-calvary/