Thoughts, from Mary Jo Radcliffe

EMDR client, now 80, former nun who left her convent aged 43.

Mary Jo Radcliffe

Crisis or opportunity?

Locked down alone in a one-bed flat, there is no escape from oneself.

Yes, I go to the Common for a sunrise walk, then I write my ‘ virus’ diary, a great source of learning, followed by a Zoom meditation, very deeply virtually connecting.

After that there is no more contact with a human being unless I go in the oldies slot for shopping.

I am challenged to turn within.

The first week of lockdown, I was endeavouring to create a structure for each day. Gradually the questions unfolded. What was the planet inviting us to learn? How differently do I need to live. What really matters in life? On what do I depend? These were the questions that my diary was struggling with.

Holy Week arrived no one to go away with and share our cosmic ideas and create rituals. In the emptiness of Holy Saturday, T.S. Eliot’s words in East Coker came to me, describing so poignantly this Day of Waiting.

Without hope, because we do not know what to hope for, wait without hope. But it is all in the waiting.

That small quote gave me much food for thought. It is where we are. I suddenly was aware how similar this feeling was to the 25 years I spent in a convent, though despite what was called community I always felt isolated. There was so little humanity.

We were not allowed to touch each other. We could only speak in certain places and in certain times. Particular friendships were considered dangerous. Every night I would, with a huge key, lock myself into the Chapel for the night, and here, the aloneness was excruciating.

We were not allowed to leave the Convent gates without permission, so we were effectively locked in. Holy Week 2020 in lockdown therefore tapped into so many familiar feelings for me.

This year there was no shared meal, recalling how in the Convent we would eat silently. Now again, there was no real way of sharing love and service.

On Good Friday, who was being crucified now? Those dying alone without their families, and no funeral. People working so hard that their humanity was dying. Holy Saturday, overwhelming emptiness everywhere, the inner emptiness of my Convent life so familiar. And so bleak.

Easter Sunday, yes the sunrise was greeted, and the four corners of the earth and the elements acknowledged in the emptiness of the Common. No witnesses. Yes the Eucharist was celebrated, inviting the whole Universe in, yet there was no one present with whom to break bread and share wine.

I experienced how hard it is to journey through Holy Week, in which every emotion is evoked, yet without a fellow soul with whom to explore the depths.

So what am I learning from the so-familiar restrictions in which we are, by force, living with no idea for how long. How do I need to live differently? What am I learning about myself? What inner work needs to be done?

There are times when I all I am aware of is the long dark , lonely shadow of locked down and locked in. I want to befriend the crisis and be open to the opportunity it offers me to shine more light into the dark, places and integrate them so as to move on, so that then can truly become then, and now now.

Without EMDR, this crisis would never have turned into an opportunity.

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EMDR Focus is a private, UK-based company led by Mark and Jutta Brayne, bringing advanced EMDR training, supervision, support and passion to empower colleagues around the world to Release the Magic, as we put it, of this…

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  1. Andrea Whittaker-Ward June 11, 2020 at 7:03 am - Reply

    A very poignant read , with a real sense of the physical isolation, the lack of physical touch and what that can give another human being.

  2. Victoria Luckie MA June 25, 2020 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    If she has a computer my old church (Holy Trinity Brompton in London) are streaming services, alpha courses, prayer sessions, and you can join home groups on line here’s the address I have found them to be very helpful and it may help her feel less isolated also.

    Best Regards,


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