During this time of social distancing, uncertainty, and isolation, Nina Simone tells us how we can find safety and security in a corona cocoon.
Corona Cocoon and Social Distancing
I dreamed I was pregnant last night. Not a rare occurrence but this week it’s safe to say it had particular meaning. I was also running from someone with a surgical mask, which helped with the interpretive work.
If I could just grab all of these people a little closer, tuck them right into me, I can keep us all safe. Sounds like a solid plan.
“Are you anxious?” ask the texts. Confusingly, just this week Flu A has swept through our house, so all these fevers and coughs…no worries, just flu…I’m sure. We are quarantined in and advised to only seek medical care if needed, so, we will most likely never know.
Not Anxious, Just Very Very Busy
I’m not anxious. Not yet. I’m busy. We’re all busy. We’re washing hands, sanitizing, COVID-19 homeschooling, taking temperatures and averting eyes from the kitchen calendar filled with events no longer happening.
Also, some of us may be regretting last month’s “ooh let’s cut bangs!” moment, but maybe I shouldn’t generalize…
I once read an article on “cocooning”, a postpartum term describing a number of practices intended to protect both mother and newborn in the early weeks.
Cocoon as Cultural Practice
In some cultures, “cocooning” refers to the limited group in contact with the infant being up to date on immunizations. Other times, the “cocoon” is a strictly protective season intended for the mental health of the mother, providing her rest, care, and full-service lactation- inducing tea delivery.
I remember reading this in an article and thinking “interesting” as I strapped babies in and headed off to get more stuff done.
But this week, in a changed world, cocooning has emerged as my image.
A Different Image
I can’t say “social-distancing.” Don’t get me wrong, as far as descriptive terms, it nails it. I just can’t shape my life around what I can’t do – and about who we can’t be to each other.
The last event that knocked the collective breath out of all of us, remember how we all responded? We gathered and held each other. We hosted meals and hugged and drew close. We were a force, at our most broken, because we were together.
Faith and the Cocoon
My faith tradition is about closing the distance. Whether it’s Jesus touching lepers, a father running to embrace his son when he’s still “a long way off,” or the wild belief that God took on flesh, we see obstacles of health, morality, and custom overcome for connection.
But, the Scriptures offer a range of images when it comes to care. The Psalmist describes God’s protection in these words: “He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings, you will find refuge.” (Psalm 91:4)
A bird’s wings are fragile, yet they protect their young from heat and storms by taking on those destructive elements themselves. The wings form a cocoon. Those wings wrap around the baby birds producing a temporary home, in order that the babies survive and life carries on.
So, I choose to cocoon. When we cocoon we are saying who we can be to each other. By turning inward, we can protect and shelter and keep safe. Thus, this house is a cocoon, this street another and our city? A cocoon.
Cocoons that furl on and on, raveled around each other and holding each other in.
Cocoon and Post-Partum
Besides, the feelings I feel aren’t unlike my postpartum days – lost, frail, busy, tired, and unsure when anything will feel normal again, carrying the nagging guilt that I should be better at this.
Postpartum life held with it both the inner whisper, “There’s no going back, only going forward,” and my mother’s shout, “Go to bed, don’t go out, don’t overdo it, YOU’VE JUST GIVEN BIRTH.”
When we practice cocooning, we proclaim the truths we are staking it all on right now: “Human life is sacred,” and, please Lord, “To everything, there is a season.”
Let’s cocoon during corona. Let’s draw close for a time and protect what is fragile. Let’s stay in sweatpants and forget about our hair, but remember to brush our teeth and take our vitamins. Let’s continue to work and remember to pray. And let’s stay hydrated.
We will take it day by day and some days… some days we may just barely make it to nap-time. This is important work. We are protecting life, and perhaps even birthing something new.