A Reflection for Noonday Prayer

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

This is a poem by Friar Richard Hendrick a Franciscan Friar living in Ireland.

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,

On this rainy gray day my heart is heavy. It is heavy because there are so many things out of my control. It is heavy because there are no easy answers to what is ahead. Really we aren’t really sure of what the hard answers are for what is ahead. There is a great amount of unknowing.

My cousin wrote me the other day that it feels like we are trading one uncertainty for another as we move through these days.
But what Friar Richard Hendicks holds up for us in this poem is what we can be certain of. Love. That “same precious love” as Julian of Norwich calls it. The love that we are all held close in. Of this I am certain.

A few days ago I was sitting in my car having a hard conversation. Honestly it wasn’t about anything related to the pandemic. The hard parts of our lives have not suddenly gone on hiatus. They are still there too demanding to be seen and dealt with. I was sitting there in the car struggling. And a bird came and perched on my rear view mirror. I am deathly afraid of two things in God’s creation. Sharks which is a rational fear even if I irrationally will not go into the ocean any further than my ankles. My other fear is birds which I realize is completely irrational and I can offer no viable explanation for. I was so caught up in my tears that I didn’t have time to freak out about this bird sitting only 12 inches from me. I just looked at it. She turned her head at me and I wiped my eyes to see her better. I have no idea what kind of bird she was because that would require me to study birds and I won’t do it. She looked at me and fixed her feathers and then she flew off. She came back one more time before the conversation was done. Maybe to check on me. Maybe to taunt me. I don’t know.

I didn’t think about that bird again until this morning. I was singing to myself as I got ready. In addition to be being irrationally afraid of birds, I like to sing. Except I don’t really sing well at all. I want to be able to sing like Aretha, but I can’t. This morning the song that popped into my head was “I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free. Oh his eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me.”

And then I remembered that little bird looking right at me. And I know the one who watches me. And you. And all of this creation. And we are held in that same precious love.
And we will love and sing. Sing across empty streets and into our phones. We will sing as we open our doors to our CARITAS guests this weekend. We will sing when we thank the delivery man and pray for the safety of the truck drivers hauling what is needed across this country. And we sing for the teachers teaching through computer screens. We sing when we hold close to our hearts all the men and women gearing up in hospitals to treat patients across this world. We will love and sing. Of this I am certain.