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We wanted to share this poem written by Brother Richard Hendricks – a Capuchin Franciscan monk living in Ireland. I think it perfectly captures the tidal waves of emotions many of us have been feeling over the past few days. It is important to acknowledge our feelings, especially if they are ones of fear, distress, and uncertainty. It is also important to recognize that there is something else beyond those feelings. Allow yourself to process, and you can come out on the other side.

Take care of yourself – mind your heart and head, as well as washing your hands.

The poem addresses the panic and stress of the times, and
also opens our eyes to something else happening in our world. People are
connecting, despite being forced into distance. When we close the factories
that are usually grinding 24/7, the earth becomes alive again with birdsong and
clear skies. When faced with disaster, it is quite remarkable how many people
come together to help those less fortunate. It is important to focus on the
outpouring of good in the world at times like these. Take care of yourself –
mind your heart and head, as well as washing your hands. And take care of
others. Reach out to loved ones. Really listen. Appreciate the slower pace we
have been mandated to take, and perhaps we can all come out of this a little
calmer, a little nicer, a little wiser. You can read the entire poem below.

Lockdown by Richard Hendricks

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
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,