Karen Dabrowska

Abrar Islamic Foundation

Originally published: 16th August 2022

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The spiritual lessons of covid

When the pandemic became a major problem in 2020 I was on holiday in New Zealand very much looking forward to a trip to north India before returning to the United Kingdom. But on March 22nd I had to leave NZ in a big hurry on one of the last flights out of the country before the country shut down. Covid was now a serious threat.

Returning to the UK was frightening. The masks were coming out. Travel on the underground was not allowed. Stay at home, save lives was the constant message from the media. Every hour the deaths were rising, the number of positive cases was rising. I was afraid of catching the dreaded virus and leaving this earth. When a child ran close to me in the park I asked the mother to observe social distancing. She was angry and the encounter left me upset. Fear was dominating my life.

The statistics were going up. None of my friends got infected. I didn’t use the underground, I was always washing my hands, the mask was always on when I was outside. 2020 became 2021. More lockdowns, endless zoom meetings, exercise alone in the park, hundreds of WhatsApp calls. No cafes. My cooking improved but it was lonely eating alone. My birthday was celebrated with a Chinese takeaway looking out of my flat window.

Covid seemed to pass me by. It was something that happened to other people, those less fit, those less careful. Come 2022 I thought I was out of the woods. All the restrictions were lifted, life returned to the streets, the cafes were open, the underground returned to its former crowded self.

On July 21st I was in the sun in the park and got slightly sunburnt. My face was a little bit red. In the evening I was hot, in the night I was sweating. A mild form of sun stroke? The next day I felt better but there was a lingering headache. Determined not to let it affect my activities I went to my tai chi class and apologised to the instructor that I was not in top form.

“You don’t look at all well,” he said and suggested I take a covid test. It was positive. Quickly I left the club and rushed home. Emailed my partner that we could not see each other the next day and slept.

The next day my ears were blocked, my throat was sore, the headache got worse, my muscles started aching. All I wanted to do was sleep. And then came the disturbing dreams.

And that was life for the next two weeks. My partner left the shopping outside the door and I stayed in my room only getting up to eat. Working from home was almost impossible. I couldn’t put a sentence together.

Karen's plant

But a profound peace came over me. I became very aware of the beauty of the leaves of the plant which spread its foliage across the walls in my room. There was life in the plant and it seemed to embrace me with its loving energy, an energy which came from Allah the architect of the universe. Communing with the plant brought me closer to the creator.

Slowing down also brought me close to God. It taught me to appreciate each moment of each day, to thank the Almighty for this wonderful life and to appreciate his blessings and if the time had come for me to leave this earth to go graciously on the greatest journey of existence back to the creator.

Appreciating the stillness, the peace of silence was a profound experience. Just being without a million thoughts racing through my head, being in the present, the eternal present, aware of the power of now.

We thank God and praise God for everything. I needed the peace and stillness of these two weeks to see the beauty in silence, to come closer to my Lord the creator, to realise the importance of getting close to God and accepting what life brings.

Gradually my health returned. It was a long covid. I kept testing positive for almost a month. But now, more than ever, I make sure I spend some time in silence in the presence of Allah, being still, listening to the words of wisdom from the divine. There is wisdom in silence.