148 Hours before Quarantine

Shawn Taylor

COVID-19 caught me by surprise. It caught us all by surprise.

When I first heard the news on March 12 that Rockhurst made the decision to temporarily shut down for 2 weeks, I just couldn’t get myself to believe it.  Four days later, the university  reevaluated the situation and moved to shut down campus for the remaining of the semester.

I remember it vividly.

I was in Denver with seven other students for a service immersion trip through campus ministry. Gorgeous lush screamer through my window of forest in the mountain landscape with snow pouring down everywhere. We’ve been driving in a van for several hours headed towards the Rocky Mountains Park. Gianna Carleo, a campus ministry faculty member at Rockhurst who was also our chaperone, stopped the van to tell us the news.  We were all shocked that the situation had spiraled to that.

I thought to myself, What if this is the end of my senior year? What am I going to do about next year? All these thoughts raced through my head. I was truly scared when I found out the news was as severe as it is.

A lot has changed since that service trip in mid-March. But in the midst of so much confusion, there were many positive moments we experienced before COVID-19 affected campus life.

I saw true beauty in the little things during my time in Denver.  The trip was focused on, spiritual ecology.  It’s the idea of seeing God in all things and how we’re connected spiritually with our ecosystem.

While in Denver, we worked at a non-profit organization called EarthLinks, which creates earth-centered programs for individuals who have been isolated or are homeless.  One program we did was organic gardening and making products out of it. I worked with two volunteers that were homeless. During our four hours of working together we laughed, showed love, and even cried a little bit.  These people have so much dignity and intelligence about who they are in the world.  They are so beautiful inside and out and I never had a conversation as spiritually engaging until that day.

Our time working with EarthLinks, we learned how to be more intentional with everything we do.  I really enjoyed working with the organization and spending time with the people that we’re going through it all.  These people had no family, money, or a place to live. All they had was the cloths on their back. It really showed me how privileged I am and how I take so much for granted.

This trip truly changed the way I consume resources, and how I see myself in the world and my relationships.  The people that I met have a special place in my heart.  From the students who went on the trip (my new friends) the people we met at EarthLinks.  From exploring the Rocky Mountains to gardening to the number of dance breaks, this trip was much needed.

When I think back 148 hours before quarantine, I engaged in so many special memories.  I was so present that I focused on building relationships then then worrying about the pandemic.

Check out the video.