I’ve been feeling helplessly at a loss as to how to contribute a bit of reassurance during this time of upheaval, something unique I could add to the multitude of well-meaning offerings encouraging us to stay calm and instructing us in how to cope. Instead of feeling soothed by the countless voices, I am drowning in the sheer volume of it, similar to how I feel after leaving a crowded mall or amusement park—tons of good stuff but entirely too much to process simultaneously. Overloaded. Overwhelmed. The desire to shut down, forest bathe, sit in silence, wrap myself in a blanket, fall into a deep sleep, or a have a good cry.
Like many of us, I have been wrestling with wildly conflicting emotions: Fear—of what I can’t control, the vast unknown, worst-case scenarios dreamed up at 2 a.m., the current state of our world. Happiness—in the newly open time to read, hang out, cook, watch shows, exercise, and write. Grief—for those we have lost or will lose, for those superhero front line healthcare workers witnessing unimaginable suffering, for the children quarantined in abusive homes. Gratitude—for precious time with my family, for plenty of necessities (and then some), for the ability to connect online with clients, for the cherished hospice nurse who still visits my parents each week when I cannot.
There is so much I could share with you—how to keep panic at bay, how to intentionally structure your day, or how to stay connected and engaged. Today, though, I am passing on this beautiful poem in hopes of gifting you a moment of peace, hope, and humanity. May you and yours be well.
Yes there is fear. Yes there is isolation. Yes there is panic buying. Yes there is sickness. Yes there is even death. But, They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise You can hear the birds again. They say that after just a few weeks of quiet The sky is no longer thick with fumes But blue and grey and clear. They say that in the streets of Assisi People are singing to each other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them. They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound. Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood So that the elders may have someone to call on. Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way All over the world people are waking up to a new reality To how big we really are. To how little control we really have. To what really matters. To Love. So we pray and we remember that Yes there is fear. But there does not have to be hate. Yes there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness. Yes there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness. Yes there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul Yes there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love. Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now. Today, breathe. Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic The birds are singing again The sky is clearing, Spring is coming, And we are always encompassed by Love. Open the windows of your soul And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing.
By Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM (shared by Tim Ferriss) March 13th 2020
[The Order of Friars Minor, also called the Franciscans, the Franciscan Order, or the Seraphic Order, has a postnominal abbreviation OFM]
Let's be kind to one another. Hang in there, friends!