Column: Being Quarantined Inside With Family Reveals Our Roots

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Somewhere in my first few years of life, my hair color changed from red to brown, and it was without the assistance of any chemical aid. And then, in my latter years, the brown disappeared and I’ve been sporting a white top instead, again without any assistance. What you see is what I got.

However, there are some out there who are revealing for the first time what their real hair color is. Their roots are showing. There’s been a run-on do-it-yourself hair color products now that hair salons and barbers have been closed for over a month, but despite the hair color in a bottle, I’m afraid all our roots are showing—even those without roots.

You see, being quarantined inside with our families reveals all kinds of roots. Family recipes now fill the house with old-time aromas. Childhood board games have been dusted off. And who among us has not uttered a phrase or two straight from our ancestors? Even our laughs and groans betray our roots.

For the most part, showing our roots is a good thing. But this isn’t always the case. There are dysfunctions in some families that may have been suppressed, only to come out of the past when under the pressure of living in these restricted times. Addictive tendencies, otherwise distracted by work or school, now begin to claim us. It’s no surprise that liquor stores are declared to be among the essential services that remain open. Other addictive drugs are still claiming minds and lives. Those dying from overdoses are the hidden victims of the coronavirus.

A friend of mine who works in the local courts tells of the uptick in domestic violence cases. Not only are family members locked in with their abusers, but their usual means of getting out of a dangerous situation is limited by the shutdown of jobs and opportunities for social interaction outside the home. It is important to note that with the lack of bail, abusers who are arrested can return home within a day unless an order of protection is sought. It is disheartening to know that many are talked out of getting this form of protection, so if you know of anyone who is suffering from abuse, please encourage them to seek the court’s help in this.

Just because a person’s roots might be disordered doesn’t mean their present actions will be determined by the past. Despite the physical suspension of 12-step groups, there are now plenty of online meetings that offer much-needed support. If you find that you’re flying off the handle and saying or doing abusive things, now is the time to reach out to friends or other relatives for support.

Those roots don’t need to show. Reach out to a local counseling agency. While they may not be open for in-person consultation, many have online services that can help.

And don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Usually, these difficult situations need more than prayer, but this is not a bad place to start. Ask God for inspiration as to whom to talk with for support. God’s wisdom often comes from others around us.

As our hair roots begin to show the truth—for good or for bad—living in quarantine can show truths about ourselves and each other. These days can help us be more reflective, more forgiving, more generous as we show our true and lasting roots.

Father Ralph Sommer is the pastor of St. Bernard’s Church in Levittown, serving as an Anton Media Group columnist for several years.

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