Kevin Rivoli: A picture and a moment of peace during the coronavirus pandemic
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PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL

Kevin Rivoli: A picture and a moment of peace during the coronavirus pandemic

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I walked into St. Mary's Church in Auburn looking for some peace from the coronavirus pandemic. As I entered the expansive 150-year-old structure, I was struck by the silence. All the world's noise was gone. I sat in a pew, a great distance from the two other people in the church. I sat.

Covering the pandemic for The Citizen, I try not to let what I see and know seep into my psyche. But I know that it has. I wear a mask when I'm working and social distance, but I find myself looking over my shoulder for the virus. Like a shield, I feel no stress when I'm behind the camera. It's when I put the camera down and go shopping at Wegmans and then go home to my wife and two boys that I battle with my psyche. Did I take all the precautions? Did I make any missteps? I can't allow the virus into my life, my home and my family. 

I'll be the first to tell you that I'm a terrible practicing Catholic. Earlier in the week I ventured into church looking for photos of people in private prayer. Today I went in looking for private prayer. In my thoughts I asked God, what is it that you want us to learn? There must be a more humane way than randomly killing thousands a people across the world. I don't get it. I didn't get an answer from God.

As I got up to leave I noticed this man in the back of the church kneeling with his head down, hands clasped, seemingly in serious prayer. I waited for a moment to approach him. He looked up at me with big sad eyes. Eyes looking for an answer. He was a working class guy who was out of work. As we chatted he revealed to me that he was praying for an end to the coronavirus. He worries about his mother and relatives living in New York City. Prayer helps, he tells me. I told him that I agree, even thought I'm not really sure it does. 

As I walked out of the church he followed me. "Psalms too" he says with a smile. I return the smile. He walks away carrying a lone palm reed and disappears around the corner.

I'm not really sure what it all means, but for a brief moment it felt right. For a brief moment I felt peace.

Staff photographer Kevin Rivoli can be reached at (315) 729-1298 or kevin.rivoli@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @kevinrivoli.

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