I read a very beautiful and touching poem by Brother Richard Hendrik, called Lockdown, which many of you will probably know, as it has made its round on the internet. It talks about hope in times of despair and how life always has a way of manifesting itself in the gentlest ways possible. It talks about the squares of Italy, ringing with songs that reverberate through open windows for everyone to hear. About the love that we feel for each other, even in the face of tragedy, death even. About ways we reach out and whisper, you are not alone. About the birds singing again and the air becoming purer and purer for us to breath.
Within the city, close to our home, was a lake. There still is one, but I am talking of another time that was before now. The lake was one spot that had numerous tall coconut trees, amongst other old specimens of banyan, bakul, maulsari, all green and abounding in leaves, fruits, flowers. It was also a haven for birds. In winter, there were herons that flew from Siberia and rested on the little island in the middle of the lake, and we could see them fly in circles above the treetops. In spring the songs of the kokil echoed from tree to tree as they called to each other with such sweetness in their voices. And the tall coconuts had the green parrots, the ones with the red collar. Every evening as they got ready to dive into the trees, they would circle above them, calling out to each other, making a perfect racket that signaled the end of day. Years later, all that almost disappeared.
Two days ago, my excited parents recorded bird song on their phone and send it to me. They spotted birds outside their window, singing, hopping, flitting. Glorious signs of life, the one that we had forgotten, the one that was almost pushed to the boundaries of our existence. The birds have come back, and along with them, hope, relief and extreme gratitude.
Here is the poem, Lockdown, by Richard Hendrik, as featured in Holstee:
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.