Sister Gelsomina Rodas Baquedano from Honduras shares her experience of being infected with COVID 19.
What I share is a grateful memory of what God has done and continues to do in my life and in the life of the community. Through this experience of COVID 19 I have learned to see illness as a school of wisdom, a school of learning.
It was when I arrived in Honduras that I heard about Covid 19. My family and friends had told me that this was a « European » disease; for me it was distant, unknown and strange. I never imagined that I would soon arrive in Honduras and live it in my own flesh. When I received the news that I was infected, I said to myself, « Now it is here and it is our turn to walk together. » I don’t deny that I felt fearful and insecure.
What I experienced with this disease
This time of sickness allowed me to review my life, to become aware that God allows sickness so that we always remain with our feet on the ground. I experienced God as my protector, my comforter. That’s why I didn’t weaken or become discouraged because He was with me, He was my guardian.
God was big-hearted with us. I say “we” because there were four patients infected by Covid in our house – Sister Patrocinia, Sister Esperanza’s mother, the father of another Sister and myself. The community was like a small hospital, but one full of humanity, fraternity and impressive solidarity.
One day I was frightened – I felt rather bad when I woke up and I hadn’t slept all night. Sister Patrocinia said to me: « If you want, I’ll take you to the hospital ». Just hearing the word « hospital» frightened me, because it was a time when many people were dying there . I immediately said, « No ». This fear allowed me in some way, to empathise with so many people who were suffering from this disease and who were terrified of not getting out alive.
At the same time, I was asking questions
Where are you, Lord? How are you speaking to me today? God for his part, appeared to me in a surprising way in:
- the desert and in the dark night.
- all the gestures of mercy and words of encouragement I received from so many Sisters of the Congregation, friends and family.
- the embraces given from a distance.
- the prolonged times of prayer that gave meaning to what I was living.
God was passing through my life and perhaps I was not aware of it.
Every morning the Lord greeted me with the song of the little birds that I listened to from my bedroom window.
The texts of the liturgy during that time of confinement were enlightening and consoling:
“Enter by the narrow gate… it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life.“ (Matthew 7:13-14).
I had to pass through a narrow gate to experience the life that springs from there. I took on this illness with confidence, abandonment and hope in my friend and brother, Jesus of Nazareth.
My daily supplication was: “Grant me, Lord the grace to pass through this narrow gate in my life, help me to live it with serenity, and inner peace, trusting in You who have the last word“.
An unexpected desert
I reread this experience like an unexpected desert, in fact the whole year 2020 has been like this I had been preparing myself for a precise mission, and the Lord came and put me in this situation. Throughout my life, I have said, « The Lord knows us, He knows what our weaknesses are, what each person needs. Nothing happens by chance, what happened to me is « for something », not « due to something ». The Lord knows what He is doing. »
Sometimes the desert comes to us when we least expect it. We were perhaps given this desert of the virus, and the quarantine we had to live in the community of Choluteca for a reason. There we had more silence and less noise, more solitude and isolation and less routine. It was a time which reminded us once again of what is most essential and important in life, of the meaning and capacity for encounter and of the need we have for each other.
The desert as an arid and difficult place
What we experienced made us live insecurity and fear. It made us aware of our fragility. I felt that, in this unhoped-for desert, the Lord wanted to speak to me again about love, to « speak to my heart » (Hosea 2, 16 – 22).
In this desert, we experienced loneliness in the community. What kept us away for a while however, from the people we loved a while was perhaps an opportunity to pray for all the people who are part of our lives, to build bridges of prayer to the places where they were.
Re-reading this experience, I realise that one thing was constantly present: it was gratitude. Every day I thanked God for being alive, “Oh my God, thank you, I have opened my eyes, I have been born again ». Every day the media announced the names of the people who were dying, those whose names were known and who were serving the country in one way or another.
How can we not be grateful to our Sisters Geraldina, Esperanza and our postulant Rosita, who took care of us so humanely ? This humanity helped us to recover. These dear Sisters dedicated and risked themselves, because they too could have been contaminated. They accepted the risk and the Good Lord kept them and protected them. These three warriors lived out our charism of humanity in their gestures of closeness, solidarity and care.
I thank all the Sisters of the Congregation and our Asociates for their fraternal communion through prayer. Bridges were laid with this prayer that allowed us to experience that we are a family.
Bless the Lord, my soul !
O Lord my God, how great You are !
Sister Gelsomina Rodas Baquedano, Honduras