Marilyn Eales (currently in a bubble of one) is a retired Medical Laboratory Scientist and
member of a Life Writing Group ( all previous students of Deborah) who have been meeting
monthly for ten years and in that time have each covered over 100 different topics. Lockdown
prevented a meeting this month so stories on the topic “Connections” were circulated by e-
This quiet eerie period in Lockdown is providing ample time to reflect on events in my life.
Around my home nearly everything my eyes alight on remind me of the past; the artefacts
collected in Papua New Guinea transport me back in time to the 1970s when I was appointed
as the first Laboratory Manager of the newly opened Faculty of Medicine at the University of
Papua New Guinea. The Tibetan teapot on the bookshelf takes me back to Nepal trekking
towards Mt. Everest and meeting delightful Tibetan traders enroute selling their carefully
crafted wares. The calligraphy on the hall wall of St Georges Church In Bloomsbury dated
1868 brings back memories of the years spent in London rooming in a quaint ancient house
adjacent to this church. A memory surfaces of a London friend calling to visit and boldly
parking her car in the small church courtyard. This earned a polite and very English
reprimand on the windscreen,” You have parked in the Bishop’s Special Place”. The wooden
carvings on my living room walI of a Fijian fisherman and his wife were carefully ( and no
doubt painfully) crafted by a Leprosy patient as St Elizabeth’s home in Suva. They transport
me back to Fiji allowing me to relive all the happiness and inevitable frustrations encountered
with my Pacific Island friends and students. I was at the time on an assignment under the
auspices of New Zealand Volunteer Service Abroad as Laboratory Tutor Technologist for
students at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva.
Living in Lockdown has offered time for contemplation, listening to my inner self and
examining the beautiful world of nature around me that hitherto mainly passed unnoticed as
more pressing tasks occupied my mind. On daily walks I am more observant of the birds,
bees and butterflies as I count the number of teddy bears displayed for the interest of children
in windows, letterboxes, hedgetops and in branches of trees. I am the biggest kid of all in this
neck of the woods (undeniably the oldest). Yesterday I counted 71 soft toys. On the
waterfront at low tide I am fascinated by the activity of seabirds scratching around in the rock
pools with exciting and increasing intensity searching for tasty titbits to eat. I have never before observed in detail the habits of the seagulls on my waterfront walks. When a morsel
has been brought to the surface of the rock pool there is a moment of peace as it is devoured
before resuming the intensity of the search.
Lockdown has taken me back to my Catholic roots when in my youth I attended day long
retreats with other young Catholics. It was an opportunity to reflect on life, on where we were
going, what we might do in the future and how we should get to know ourselves and God
better. The days were disciplined, quiet, contemplative, interspersed with lectures from a
spiritual director. After each lecture we wandered around the grounds and reflected on life.
Silence was observed throughout the day. Lunch and tea breaks were provided. These were
taken in complete silence as we sought guidance in our lives.
In the existing confusion of this pandemic we now more than ever before are facing into an
uncertain future. Where to from here?