The past month has been a whirlwind. A constant teeter-tottering between prepare-scramble-panic and relax-breathe-surrender.
First I watched Singapore slip into chaos, wondering what protocols are, making sure one had enough but was not considered selfish, and just living out the typical kiasi-kiasu culture we have.
Each morning in Europe I awoke to new measures that made my heartache. No Mass, strict measures and panic buying (aka fear). I was actually a little relieved to be further from the epicenter of chaos, I could not do much from afar other than pray. I attended mass with greater gratitude and appreciation, wondering if the Italians around me felt that same privilege.
Next, north Italy started erupting. I watched the government scrambling to get it’s footing, balancing a tough clamp down with the carefree Italian culture. Quick, organized and strict weren’t terms I would associate with the culture I had come to experience in Italy. What works better? The culture I’m in or the culture I’m from?
News and hearsay prompted many debates as to whether to still continue studying or to drop everything and go. My growing turmoil was a contrast to the streets of Rome, which were a little emptier, though in the light-hearted moments I wondered if it would be a good time to visit the Colosseum or Vatican Museum because the crowds are gone. (We didn’t go :\)
If there’s anything I’ve learnt the past month it would be that authority/ the law/the media plays a big part in what I consider normal and thus moulds my own stand. In my case, second to being a wife, the vocation as a student is of utmost priority. It was difficult to make a decision to leave Rome when the law of the land, and the university, had not hit the panic button (which when pressed would indicate COVID is a cause of concern and to take it seriously as opposed to treating it as a seasonal flu bug that goes away in the heat).
By some stroke of ‘luck’, there was a sweet spot between school closure and the number of cases in Rome relatively low. With the official announcement, an agonizing day of pacing, pondering and prayer and POOF, we had tickets home. We tried to sleep with the thought that the next bed we sleep on will be at home. We heaved a sigh that a decision has been made and we couldn’t afford (quite literally) to second guess our decision. Do I pack like I’m going away for 2 weeks or 2 months? I leave a freezer full of meat and 2 eggs in the fridge.
And finally, now back home in our sunny humid Singapore, things don’t seem so different other than sanitizers, masks and sprays are placed at the front of every shop. It’s more relaxed than I imagined, or has it all been put being a mask of professionalism and structure?
Every morning I awake to find Italy implementing tough measures and worry for friends living there. The familiar heartache, relief and prayer fills my heart. My worrisome self happy to be home, but still uncomfortable as I watch the number of cases in Italy rise by the truckload each passing day.
What if I had…? Perhaps I am…? Maybe I could..? It has been a barrage of considerations and decisions the past month. Many times overwhelming, so much so that it has truly been a grace to be managing all the curve balls thrown. To surrender the decisions and trust God despite the extreme uncertainty is the gift of freedom.
As my professor has repeated many times
“Divine grace initiates, sustains, completes every virtuous act, moving the will and inspiring the intellect freely. Our active cooperation is both an expression of human freedom and the immediate gift of God’s grace”.
In other words, God is truly with us. (: