► March 26, 2020
The lack of car and rail traffic has changed our world. In the still soothing and disturbing silence, a recurring rumble is heard, ten to twenty times a day, and also at night, which it took a while to identify. These are the lions. A traveling circus was stopped on its tour. The marquee is empty. Animals and men are under house arrest in their trucks and trailers. Men grumble, women scold children, children bicker laughing. And the lions roar, on the very serious notes which characterize them, in long tragic and furious modulations.
→ LIVE. Coronavirus: the latest information on the pandemic in France and worldwide
It looks like the dull whining of confined humanity, reduced to turning in circles, sorry. We believe we hear the distress of those who die without being able to hold anyone’s hand, of those who are broke in the prime of life, defeating statistical probabilities, of those who live in countries so poor that he is almost happy that, with them, we do not know how many are affected. Separated from the others, we are sad.
► March 30, 2020
Time flows in a unique way. At least the perception that we have of it is paradoxical. We feel like we have been in our house for a very long time; life before, the free and current life before March 15 seems to us to belong to a distant time, of which we are gradually losing the memory.
And, on the other hand, when we look back over the past fortnight, we are amazed and disappointed to see that we have done little. We wanted to move quickly in writing this book under construction, finally sorting out our library, reading twice as much as usual, since we are not going out, finishing the photo album started seven years ago … theory, we are organized, methodical, disciplined, active. In practice, our unconscious reminds us that it is he who is in charge, and that he is upset. We are spreading out. We have trouble concentrating. We no longer know if we overestimate or underestimate the risk of being hurt – both, no doubt. Separated from the others, we are confused.
► April 3
Times are tough for nurserymen. International flower markets have closed. In Holland, tons of flowers are thrown every day ready to open but which cannot be shipped. It’s not better in France. You have to imagine the horticulturalists of the region of Hyères and elsewhere picking up their sumptuous peonies to throw them in a heap at the end of their fields (these roses and these creamy whites, Manet, Renoir, these big buttons with the airs of fruits, these leaves with red veins which, by themselves, make lovely bouquets…). And lily of the valley from 1er May, will the millions of bells that normally ring in the summer, go rot in the compost pits? Separated from the others, we can nevertheless be united in their difficulties and transform this solidarity into action. Home flowers are once again possible in town.
“In the soothing and disturbing silence, a recurring roar is heard (…). These are the lions. A traveling circus was stopped on its tour. »/ Dmytro Smolyenko / Ukrinform / Zuma / Rea
► April 5
Prisons in Arles, Moulins and Rennes have offered prisoners to work on making protective masks. There were more volunteers than work stations. Prisoners are like everyone else, many of them want to participate in the collective effort to fight the pandemic. We must hope that in the future we think about offering them more often, as in these workshops, work that makes sense. It would probably lessen their suffering a little. And that would help make sense of their grief. Separated from others, we always have the power to imagine and implement changes that will improve the lot of the poor.
► April 6
A friend, who married her daughter on December 28, and saw the organization of the party very complicated by the transport strike (the lamps had not arrived, friends from far away remained in the harbor at Roissy…) said, thinking of all those who can no longer marry on the date and in the way that had made them dream: I thought that we had not had a chance and I see that on the contrary, we had.
→ EXPLANATION. Deconfinement, the impossible equation of public transport
The reflection can be applied to many of the events that we experienced each other before March 15. Perhaps, when you die, you say something of the same kind.
► April 8
Véronique died suddenly on Palm Sunday. This morning, twenty people are gathered in the church where the Farewell is celebrated, twenty of his close relatives. But a retransmission of the liturgy is ensured, live, and three hundred of her friends follow the arrival of her coffin, carried by her four sons, hear the magnificent word of her husband, too moved to speak and read by one of their girls. Separated from the others, we remain linked to them.
► April 9, 10, 12
Holy Week is an ordeal this year. So beautiful is the interior of Saint Peter in Rome, so powerful the Way of the Cross on the square and the words of the crucified expressed by prisoners or relatives of prisoners, victims or relatives of victims, so poignant the face of the Pope , marked by extreme gravity, one does not enter these celebrations on video as in a living assembly. Separated from others, we are poor.
► April 20
Certain Christian reflections are difficult to bear these days (like yesterday, by the way…). One of the leaders of the evangelical organization that set up a mobile hospital in Central Park, New York, said of the epidemic: ” It is God’s will “. To myself, a nun wrote: ” God sends us signs to invite us to conversion ”. These are words that it is better not to say to the members of a sibling group held outside the hospital where a very old lady is dying, their mother, or to these parents torn apart by the absolutely unexpected death of a child. struck by a lightning-like form of Covid-19. The question of Evil is a terrible enigma for Christians. If God is all powerful, Creator at all times from heaven and earth, if he is the Master of time and history, Where does a universal pandemic come from?
A few years ago, my grandfather found himself one day participating, in Lourdes, in a meeting of French bishops. Two of these prelates arrived late, somewhat moved. Their car was off the road and ended up in a ditch. ” But divine Providence wanted us to be spared “Said one of the two survivors to the cantonade. The bishop who was seated next to my grandfather leaned towards him and slipped to him in a low voice: “Perhaps divine Providence could have saved them from falling into the ditch?” “
What I (re) discover: “Cooking, reading … There is no age to learn”
– There is no age to learn. I discover what it means to wash your hands, above, below, between your fingers, with lots of soap, for three minutes. I, who washed my hands about a hundred times a day, but no matter how, sometimes even without soap, I measure my chance of having passed between viruses.
– We all cook with particular care. In houses where several people are under house arrest, everyone has their own specialty. We try stuff. Personally, I started to prepare potato peel crisps. A real job: before putting them in the oven, you must use a brush to coat each peel with a mixture of olive oil and Provence herbs. The result is not bad. Not extraordinary, but still better than industrial chips.
– We read or reread occasional books. Plague de Camus is well dated, at least the words that the author puts in the mouth of the prelate whom he makes speak in the pulpit. “My brothers, you are in misfortune, my brothers, you have deserved itsaid Father Paneloux. The scourge of God puts the proud and the blind at its feet. “ Even the most stubborn of Christian fundamentalists no longer hold this kind of statement, in France, in any case.
The most powerful and original story of fevers and containment that I have read is The shadow line, by Conrad. On the China Sea, a large commercial sailboat is encalminated. There is no longer a breath. It is awfully hot. Thunderstorms break out, but far away. And the sailors collapse, one after the other.
Laurence Cossé, fine observation of the world
1950. Birth in Boulogne-Billancourt.
Laurence Cossé becomes journalist and literary critic. She was also executive producer at France Culture.
nineteen eighty one. She publishes her first novel, The southern rooms (Gallimard), who receives the Sainte-Beuve prize. She has since authored a dozen novels, plays, and short stories.
1996. The corner of the veil, Jean Giono Prize and the Prize for Believers.
2011. Bitter almonds.
2015. Grand Prize for Literature of the French Academy for all of his work.
2016. The great arch, François-Mauriac Prize and the Book Prize of the Academy of Architecture
Laurence Cossé was a columnist at The cross every Wednesday from January 2016 to July 2017