Tuesday, 24 March 2020
Devotional Reflection

Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34

I don’t know about you, but I can be prone to worry.  Especially in times like this one, where just about every social routine has been disrupted, and much of the input I get from outside sources reminds me of how the sky is falling. 

One of Jesus’ mantras was “Do not be afraid” and its variants, “Do not worry”, “fear not”, etc.  But especially when it’s dark out and I can’t distract myself with other voices or activities, when I’m trying sink into a restful sleep, my mind starts revving.  It leaps and gallops around in the Land of Worry — a favorite playground for the human mind.  But while worrying makes our minds think we’re doing something, it doesn’t actually help or solve anything.  At this point, we all know the most important things we need to be doing in order to make a difference: wash your hands, isolate as much as possible, wash your hands, and maintain safe social distance when you need to be out and about.  And, wash your hands (and don’t touch your face).  Finally, if you feel at all unwell or symptomatic–even if you’re not sure it’s the virus–stay home; period.

Today’s devotional reflection is a poem written by Brother Richard Hendrick, an Irish Franciscan monk.  (Remember, St. Francis of Assisi was the monk who befriended the animals and the fields, and all of creation, as he did his healing work after Jesus’ example.)  To his surprise, Br. Richard’s poem, written and posted on March 13th, has been making the rounds on social media.  Turns out, for all the lumps of anxiety-fodder it serves up, Facebook users also recognize and share some really edifying poetry, artwork, and music!  As one who’s determined to “feed the positive and starve the negative” for my spiritual wellbeing (I encourage the same spiritual diet for others), I’m grateful for this bit of nourishing soul food.  Enjoy!

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,
          ~ by BROTHER RICHARD,  13 March, 2020

Loving Creator of this world that astonishes, confounds, and humbles us: help us to live more like your Son and our brother Jesus Christ, who taught us to learn from the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.  Teach us to cast our worries onto you, and to accept your blessings of peace, presence, and love.  Amen.

Music (click): “Irish Blessing “ (Only one week after St. Patrick’s Day!)


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