On Sunday, February 16, a 61-year-old woman with symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19) attended a service at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, South Korea. She scanned her thumb on an electronic pad to prove attendance and prayed in a basement packed with about 1,000 other attendees whom she hugged repeatedly per church ritual.
Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) was a renowned feminist poet throughout the second half of the 20th century. Her poems explored themes of feminism, social justice, queerness and environmentalism. One of my favorites is called “My heart is moved.” “My heart is moved by all I cannot save: / so much has been destroyed / I have to cast my lot with those / who age after age, perversely, / with no extraordinary power, / reconstitute the world.” Two of the most influential people in my life, a married couple who teach at my public high school, introduced me to this poem.