An old friend sent me an email with this poem attached. It is going viral on the internet, but I like it so much that I want to reprint it here for any of our readers who have not yet seen it. My friend is in his 80s now, is a retired physician, and is probably as scared as you and I are. He mentioned that his father — at age 19 — came down with and survived the Spanish Flu during the pandemic of 1918, and I think what he is saying is that most of us will too.
Most of us, but not all of us.
It seems to me that almost everywhere I turn, almost everyone I talk to is sharing stories about someone they know who is helping someone else in some way. Random acts of kindness abound. This is my “great America” — the one I know and expect.
I have had friends call me in tears because of the unexpected generosity of friends. I have watched people dig in and put one foot in front of the other and move forward — with positive attitudes and smiles — in the face of really awful circumstances.
I have seen so many people out walking or playing with their children in their yards or just in conversation with a spouse or neighbor. For once, and it is counter-intuitive, here in Alpharetta I am seeing faces that are not contorted or distorted by stress and urgency. People out driving are not honking horns. They seem very much at peace. Some sort of newfound peace in the middle of a dark tempest, but a peace never the less. We’re reading. We’re resting. We’re waiting. We’re praying. And we’re waiting to heal.
And maybe, just maybe, when the pandemic is in our rearview mirror, as the poem below suggests, we will live our lives a bit differently, a bit more generously with ourselves and others. And maybe even slow down, and, yep, smell the roses a bit more or allow ourselves to be more in touch with what life really is about — the stuff that sustains souls.
Here is the poem, “And the People Stayed Home,” written by Kitty O’Meara;
And people stayed at home
And read books
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.