When I was seven or eight, I came down with whooping cough, a common childhood disease of the day. My mom treated me at home, using her usual remedies of hot buttered rum, mustard plasters and Vick’s Vapo-Rub under the nose. Isolated from friends, I remember telling her, “Mom, I’m alone.”  With a smile, she replied, “No, you’re lonely. Offer it up for the poor souls in Purgatory. They need our help.”

My mom was anything but a theologian but her Irish-Canadian upbringing molded her instinctively to connect to “the Communion of Saints,” perhaps the least understood tenet in the Apostles’ Creed.  Especially in these uncertain times, it’s wonderful to remember that we are all in this together, living and dead.

In her essay “The Discipline of Solitude,” Christian writer Ruth Haley Barton called solitude “a time to build…a retreat…in order to come back to community.” [1] Or as the French expression has it, “reculer pour mieux sauter.”[2] A worthy goal….but our distancing does not require that we wait to come back to community.

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