When will we hug again?
Day after day we wonder, when will we hug again?
Craving that connection with our friends and family, we jump on calls wishing we could be together.
We spend hours looking at our loved ones, in a bizarre kind of intimacy.
Able to linger on their faces far longer than we normally would, we notice their expressions, spot the greying hairs, the fear in their eyes, the frailty of human bodies. We see our loved ones so up close, yet feel so far apart, and watch the days go by missing birthdays, celebrations, everyday joys and sorrows.
If a loved one falls ill, we spend sleepless nights wishing we could be there to hold them.
And if the nightmare comes true, and they die, we grieve in limbo, unable to say goodbye and honour that life we cherished, with the community we shared.
A unique historical moment some say.
Too familiar a struggle we respond.
This bitter physical distancing is the story of a daily dispossession enacted all around the world in the lives and experiences of the children of the diaspora, of migrants, disabled peoples, prisoners, exiles, detainees…
How strange for the wretched of the earth to be united in this moment, with great swathes of humanity in the pain of separation.
Deep embodied connection, now we all know, is a desire as close to human nature as the fruit is to a tree.
Lockdowns will ease one day, and so many people will be allowed to be out: holding their loved ones close again, tending their sick and honouring their dead not just with thoughts but with the fragile, precious, warm-blooded presence of their bodies.
Meanwhile others will be left to wonder in enduring isolation, when will our time come to finally be free?
In unity with all the wretched of the earth experiencing ongoing separation from loved ones due to artificial lines on maps, cages or wars created by men — manifestations of the plagues of poverty, inequality, colonialism, extractivism and capitalism. None of us is free until we are all free.
Where there was pain, we say, may flowers of compassion be nurtured into being.
May we question the economic, social and political structures, the man-made diseases that would deny a love so simple and nurture pain so far and wide.
While our collective wounds are still open, may we allow ourselves to be silent and listen to the words of wisdom carried on the winds of this shared time of separation, this time of an era-defining, unifying plague:
We are, each of us, enchained by this system;
We yearn to be free. Yet we are bound to one another.
Only in the acknowledgement and honouring of that interconnected nature with others and the world, will we realise our freedom and humanity.