The words I am sharing below were sent to me three days ago by one of my dearest friends, who currently lives in Congo with her partner and her two very little children. I had thought about my friend a lot during the past days, extremely worried about what an outbreak of the Coronavirus would mean for Africa, for the Republic of Congo, for her and her family.
Ever the optimist, she sent me a beautiful image of her son and her mother from Tchegera Island in Virunga National Park with a quote from Osho:
"Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the total presence of fear with the courage to face it."
She included the following poem, written by a friend of a friend of hers, which has now gone viral all over the world. In case you haven't seen it yet, I am sharing Brother Richard Hendrick's words with you here.
I hope that in moments when calmness, optimism, strength, and patience seem hard to find, these words will lift you up - so that you can soon hear the birds sing again.
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.
Brother Richard Hendrick / Capuchin Franciscan
March 13th, 2020