Hand-cut collage on canvas panel.

The answers are elusive now, and no one knows when this will end. Some of us have begun to pray. To make bread. To fold ourselves into new shapes.

If an answer to your prayer is elusive, try repeating the same prayer every day for 40 days. Mark the time on a calendar. Wait. Listen. It's possible you won't care about the answer anymore at the end.

We all want to go somewhere, but we don't want to choke on our own blood. We want to drive the car, but we don't want to die alone.

Sailors entering Venice during the plague were held on their ships for 40 days - a time that Venetians referred to as the quarantino. It's the same length of time Jesus was tempted by the devil. 

We thought the children would be safe, but the killer is capricious. We pore over stories of a strange rash. Irregular heartbeats. A few, sudden deaths. 

In China, a new mother is confined to her home for 40 days after she has given birth. She has time to rest and recover, to get to know her child and to learn all about her new self.

It takes 20 days to change an old habit, and 20 days to start a new one. It's a great time to take up a new hobby or resurrect an old one, long neglected. Some believe the ghosts of the dead linger at the grave for 40 days before departing. 

Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai when he went to meet God. Rain fell for 40 days in the great flood. It was after Goliath charged the Israelites twice a day for 40 days that David knocked him down. 

The Black Plague took 300 years to stop killing people, resurrecting itself in brutal 20 year cycles. Victims were forcibly shut into their homes for 40 days to prevent the spread of the disease. Some plagues only stop killing people when there's no one left to die.


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