March 14, 2020. The Spanish government declared a state of emergency: a quarantine, with a very strict set of rules. All schools, businesses, and public areas were closed. Citizens could leave their homes only for groceries or to go to the pharmacy, and no one was allowed to travel more than two hundred meters. A heavy police presence descended on the city of Cadiz, where I’ve been living, and if you were found doing outdoor activities other than the approved ones, you could receive a fine of five hundred to two thousand Euros.
On a normal day of living and working in the south of Spain as an English teacher at a high school, I’d spend the whole day outside of my apartment. On any given afternoon, I was used to seeing streets filled with people, bustling courtyards, and open-air markets packed with locals doing their daily shopping. Days here start slowly but last until the late hours, with people meeting friends, eating at cafes, and walking by the ocean well after sunset. I had never seen a street in Cadiz even close to empty before March, and when quarantine began, I felt anxious and unaccustomed to being locked inside all day.
The level of fear was high. My roommate is very up to date on the news and would share daily statistics of infections and deaths. Other coworkers reached out in fear, asking advice on whether to stay in Spain or flee back to the United States. Very quickly I found myself feeling unsure, as well as overwhelmed by the fact that if I stayed, I didn’t know when I’d be able to go home. The US government released a statement saying that if citizens didn’t return home immediately, they wouldn’t be able to for an “indefinite” amount of time. Yet I didn’t want to abandon my teaching position (which I had finished online), or the city and friends I had grown to love.
I found myself feeling unsure, as well as overwhelmed by the fact that if I stayed, I didn’t know when I’d be able to go home.
I had been raised to turn to God in prayer for help, for guidance, for overcoming challenges, and for healing. I always have. I’ve traveled around the world and been in many time zones, climates, cultures, and countries, and have always found solace and support from the understanding of God I’ve gained through Christian Science. So when my mom suggested I call a Christian Science practitioner for help in dealing with the fear I was feeling, I was eager to.
That evening on the phone, after I explained my situation, the practitioner reminded me of some of the basic facts I’d learned in the Christian Science Sunday School: Each of us is always embraced in God’s almighty, protective love. No disease, facts, or numbers could change my forever oneness with God. And God’s law—the law of good, harmony, and health—was the true law governing me.
Coming to the realization that there was nothing that could come between God and any of God’s children, regardless of location or situation, lifted the fear. I felt safe in the understanding that even if I was geographically far from family, I was never truly alone, because as a child of God, I am never separated from the divine Love that is my Life. I was able to go to bed peacefully, free of any worry.
No disease, no outbreak, no dangerous location could ever separate me from God. I was in His loving arms, being protected and cared for.
I can happily say that in the two months I have been in quarantine, I’ve never had a return of those feelings of fear or doubt. Even when concerned friends from back home have asked me if I was afraid to stay or was feeling trapped or alone, I’ve remained at peace. I know this is because in that breakthrough moment, I was completely willing to sacrifice what the five physical senses were telling me about the situation for what God, Truth, was telling me. And what Truth was telling me was that no disease, no outbreak, no dangerous location could ever separate me from God. I was in His loving arms, being protected and cared for. That’s when the fear dissolved.
This wonderful feeling of peace has even helped my roommate, who was effortlessly able to give up his obsessive checking of the news and numbers. This brought a permanent lightness to our household.
One of my biggest take-aways from this healing was the recognition that my safety doesn’t come from a physical location called home, but from God. I have often worked with the psalm in the Bible that says, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalms 139:7–10). This specific idea of God as my home and refuge is one that I carry with me closely. And I know even more deeply now that I am always at home in God—at every moment and in every situation.