Faith & Life, Local

A biblical marathon during quarantine

September 3, 2021

Marco Carvalho

How to survive more than a month of strict confinement periods in hotel rooms without losing your mind? Sister Bernadette Kim found her very own solution. The South Korean nun read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation during the 35 days she spent under quarantine earlier this year.

Faith doesn’t always move mountains, but it was the shield that protected Bernadette Kim from the devastating impact of more than a month of quarantine. Earlier this year, in March and April, the South Korean nun was confined to two hotel rooms for 35 days, as part of a journey that, under normal circumstances, would last just over six hours.

Kim left her native Korea in early March and only regained freedom of movement more than a month later, in mid-April. In between, she had to submit herself to two long periods of quarantine, one in Taiwan and the second one in Macau: “I had to submit to 35 days of quarantine as part of the return trip from South Korea to Macau, with a long stop-over in Taiwan. I was afraid, I had some negative expectations when I started the quarantine. The idea of ​​staying in isolation was a little frightening, but I thought it could give me the joy of physical rest, as well as offer the possibility to escape stress and my normal activities,” Sister Bernardette Kim told O Clarim.

The South Korean nun prepared herself mentally to face the ordeal of having to spend more than a month in a tiny room, but it was not necessarily her mind that betrayed her. Sister Kim says that it was the limited ability to move and the lack of space for physical activity that made the quarantine process so challenging: “The confinement experience made me understand how the psychological impact of quarantine and isolation was exacerbated by the impact of limited physical activity,” Bernadette Kim explained. “After a few days of quarantine, I felt angry for being trapped against my will, for not being able to open the windows in such a small space, for not being able to communicate with others, for having the food always served at the same time. I felt frustration, boredom, headaches,” she added.

After a first, very demanding quarantine in Taiwan, Sister Bernadette made faith the essential basis of the isolation process she submitted herself upon her arrival to Macau. She added a major challenge to prayer, to self-communion and to the daily Mass.  In addition to deepening the daily reading of the Gospel and committing to regular physical exercise, the South Korean nun made a commitment to read the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation: “I made the decision to read the entire Bible during the quarantine. It was a great experience, which made me truly feel the existence of God. I felt God close to me, protecting me and guarding my life,” Bernadette Kim guarantees. “As I started reading the Bible four or five hours a day, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, I felt the mercy and love of God, which was always evident throughout the sinful existence of Man. It was also an opportunity to look at my own history and I felt that God was always with me and never left me alone. He was always with me. It is a gift to be his daughter. I would like to recommend to people currently undergoing quarantine that they read the Bible. I am sure that God will protect you,” the South Korean nun concluded. (Photo from https://11capitologenerale.paoline.org/)