Eleni Karagiannis

Strange this Spring. The symbol of the rebirth of life in such agony of death! An unknown, invisible, insidious enemy comes to challenge man's omnipotence to control disease, to prolong life, to plan everything in the long run.

First we experienced the era of cancellations: every day pre-arranged conferences, business plans, events, excursions, holidays, were canceled one after the other and without any guarantee of an immediate safe new date.

We are called to measure life step by step, moment by moment, just like people who have recently experienced a significant loss, and do not think of life as their own, nor therefore can they plan it.

And then came the necessary confinement at home, at a time when Spring calls for extroversion. The growing day, the passage from the cold and darkness of Winter to the light, the awakening of nature! The light of a warm sun, an invitation to the body to seek its thermal touch!

We have been deprived of the embrace of loved ones, we look at our fellow man with suspicion, we keep safe distances. We are called to feel things from the beginning, to spell love differently. From the position: I stay away from you because you threaten me, to the position: I stay away from you to protect you, but I find a way to be by your side.

We were deprived of the beauty, the relaxation, the benefit of the company around a table next to a sea! The evenings in the city with the sound of music synchronizing with the heartbeat and enjoying the closeness, as the other person becomes a mirror that recognizes you and at the same time troubles you! We miss the unique groups that as Greeks we know how to support.

We have been deprived of the pleasure of a family table, the opening of the home to the outside, the enrichment of the nuclear family, which makes the celebration a sharing of joy and renewal and strengthening of family and friendship ties.

Every existence is precious and everyone is called to honor their existence so that it becomes precious for them and others.

The love we experience is precious, even from a distance. The love of children to parents is precious, the love of grandchildren to grandparents is a fairy tale. Precious is the love of the elderly, when they are not selfishly interested only in themselves and inspire with their bravery and wisdom.

Are we called to remember how much space our society allows for the elderly? Does it also correspond to them asking themselves if they resign bitterly, when they are not at the center, if they choose to marginalize themselves in front of the leaping evolution of life?

It is time for reflection. It is time to strengthen the internal routes when traffic is prohibited. It is time to turn to inner personal wealth. To seek the solitude that will bring us closer to ourselves and to others. That loneliness that increases confidence in life and gives meaning to pain and difficulty. It is the loneliness of the man who is at peace with himself, so it can lead to creativity.

Strange, otherworldly Spring with the churches closed, without the sweetness of greetings, without the grandeur of Holy Week. Spring without Good Friday, without the triumph of the Resurrection... But, in the end, this lack, the absolute deprivation, might lead better to the existential search and to the re-choice of a faith that, stripped of its magical religiosity, endures to ask in a heartbreaking way the questions and to seek answers to life and death?

We stay at home and that goes for everyone. More than ever, we recognize that we all belong to the common human destiny. We will get sick, probably most of us. We will be afraid, we are already afraid. "The soul trembles and sweetly misses itself." We will recover, hopefully. We will be in danger, some of us. We will mourn losses. We will realize that there is no such thing as individual happiness.

 The road is long.

We stay at home and the other person becomes the difficulty and at the same time the possibility.

Let's not be afraid of our dark feelings coming to the surface. We are not invulnerable, we are human. It is certain that fears from the past, well hidden, will be mobilized, as everyday life did not allow for the possibility of reflection. There comes a time when forgotten, marginalized experiences demand that we bravely see them in the light, in the hope of getting better answers. But in basements and attics there are also treasures: the way we dealt with past losses, past difficulties.

 Let us not be afraid of conflict with our children, as long as we move and put ourselves in their place. The bet will be, not to clash in the same, repetitive, sterile way that seeks self-justification and does not dare to allow the truth of the other to wash away. Let's be open, learn from our children, it's exactly the moment we encourage them to learn from us!

Let us not be disappointed by seeing the weaknesses of the partner, as long as they do not prevent us from seeing his beauty. We can't go far otherwise, again with proximity we will face each other.

Proximity panic lurks! We fear closeness, lest others disappoint us. We fear that our weaknesses will be revealed. We fear that we will be called upon to metabolise the other's truth, thereby questioning some of our own established truths. We fear that the other will hurt us if we allow him to enter the secret garden of the soul. We fear that it will absorb us, that we will lose ourselves, that we will lose our freedom.

We will see very clearly in front of us the dark parts of our relationship, as well as the solidity we have already built. We will see the possibility of improvement opening up before us. Confinement at home calls us to re-introduce ourselves!

How will we bring home its lost sanctity? Will it once again become the place of expression of human desire, but also of encounter with the desire of the other? At the same time, will it tolerate diversity and favor self-discovery?

We are called to accept what cannot be changed, we are called not to passively abandon ourselves to the fatal. It's paradoxical how many new paths and possibilities open up when we accept limitations but remain unyielding in our eternal desire for transcendence and creativity.

We will remember the existential messages written on prison walls. We will reflect on the bridges that, as engineers argue, are the most original and durable, when there are space limitations and adverse environmental conditions. Our own self will surprise us with its capacity for adaptability.

All those "I love you's" that haven't been said, maybe it's time for them to be expressed and inspire change and movement?

How will the house ensure the possibility for everyone to have their personal creative corner, but also the opportunity to meet and authentically share with others?

How will parents be given space to work from home, and teenagers to ensure the necessary privacy?

How will young people move and understand the anxiety for life experienced by the elderly?

How will the elderly move and understand the longing and vitality of the young that is condemned to remain unexplored?

And the children; First of all we will celebrate the fact that they are not vulnerable to the disease! We will give them space - primarily soul - so that they can continue to play endlessly. To play when they read and learn. To play and when they have to follow the rules. Sustained by their inner inexhaustible creativity, may they continue to inspire life. And we will welcome with emotion the first baby born healthy, to a mother who suffered from the disease.

We will talk to the children about the problem. It does not correspond to keeping them in a suffocating protective cocoon. But as parents mediate between children and in reality, we will talk to them as much as is appropriate for their age to process and understand. Children will perceive our attitude towards difficulty, unexpected threat, frustration, fear. What outlook on life do we wish to inspire in them? 

How will we recognize the excesses of doctors and nurses waging an unequal battle against an incomprehensible virus? It is a long time since they had lost their face, in faceless hospitals, where patients and relatives underestimated their value and charged them with any inadequacy of the system.

 Shall we express our gratitude to all those who keep vigil at the bedside of the sick, or spend endless lonely hours in laboratories, to decipher the unknown virus and redeem humanity? Gratitude will save our humanity and inspire new transcendence in them and in us. We will keep the memory of the beneficence when it is all over, because man unfortunately sometimes forgets, in the effort to exorcise evil and forget the vulnerable position he found himself in.

 We will realize how many people die alone and helpless, without the possibility of saying goodbye! We are called to face death as something that concerns us, as the first truth of existence, eagerly seeking the last.

We are called to redefine our needs, to seek something much more than the consumption of things, moments and relationships. The path corresponds to be from momentary pleasure, to joy and deeper satisfaction, as we are called to seek the depth of things.

We will miss the journeys we have lived and allow the memories to come alive, certainly free of hardships and miseries. "The hours are coming that loved our hours." We will realize that nothing is taken for granted, and everything will rise in our appreciation, the little and big escapes, the new places we longed for, the natural beauty revealed to us, the human achievements of civilization, but also the familiar beloved places that we always come back!

"The most beautiful sea is the one we have not yet sailed." We will miss the journeys of the future that we have not experienced yet, as we need not to forget the beauty that exists outside the walls. We will allow the beauty of the world to flood our home, thanks to the achievements of technology.

 We will not cancel the fast rhythms we had learned to live in, we hope to find them again - and there will be an explosion of life, a prolonged Spring, when everything is over - but we are called to make use of the knowledge we will have gained from the wheels of solitude .

How will we come out of the ordeal better? Like a trauma that we will want to forget? as merely a suffering we were forced to experience, angry and savaged by deprivation and isolation?

The goal is to acquire a resistant mental immune system, which will know how to distinguish the essential from the non-essential, which will save humanity and competitiveness.  

We suddenly realized that cities are ugly, cold without people. People make cities beautiful. They choose the most representative parts of the cities to connect them with their personal history, but without the people, the beauty remains without a reflection. How to enjoy cities without couples in love, without the hasty, responsible, thoughtful step of workers, without lively groups, without the intense mobility of children?

"Free besieged", in an age when freedom is the highest good, suddenly deprived of basic freedoms. Locked in the house, at a time when life usually took place outside the home.

Free besieged without the benefit of rallying around the common enemy, how will we manage to keep confinement from becoming isolation? On the other hand, is there not the absurdity of being alone in a crowd, but also vice versa, in loving communion with others while being in a state of solitude?

We will envision returning. Like a light at the end of the tunnel, like a priceless gift, like a new beginning, with the longing to reciprocate after a long sojourn.

We will desire others and be happy because they will desire us. Desire is the experience of a lack and at the same time a power that surpasses us. It is the encounter with our deepest interiority. Life is humanized, when my desire for the other is recognized by the desire of the other.

We humans are closed at home, but on the street the trees bloom in our absence. They ignore the threats of the new virus. They know how to listen to the beat of the juice of their trunk inside, when it can no longer contain its momentum and transforms into flowers that are delicate, sensitive but also resistant at the same time.

The trees bloom in our absence, they shine even at night. They rise to the occasion, they are consistent in the rendezvous with Spring, in the rendezvous with the hope of reversal. They give the present, replacing the human absence.

Trees are the living part that changes and evolves, they flourish with an excess of life and desire! They beautify the empty cold streets with their palette of colors, walk with the roots and unfold the new leaves in defiance of the times!

The trees bloom for a fleeting conspiratorial glance with the doctors and nurses as they rush to the hospital, or rush home after the end of the shift. The trees bloom for the volunteers, who with their excesses beautify the world.

But do the flowering trees of the streets exist to remind us that there are human relationships that can flourish within the home? And does it correspond to triggering the flowering of the being within us?