Three poetic heart-cries in our present crisis

Peter Cowley, the Director of The Tuwhiri Project, a publishing imprint for books and online courses dedicated to developing a secular approach to the dharma, forwarded SBN three poems dealing with the current coronavirus pandemic which were compiled by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the founder and director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

The Shalom Center provides a prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and American life that brings Jewish and other spiritual thought and practice to bear on seeking peace, pursuing justice, healing the earth, and celebrating community.


Rabbi Tamara Cohen – And they Assembled

And Moses said dayam, enough.

Enough: enough.

Stop, withdraw,

bring/do/perform/gather no more.

Let the silver glare of a silent sanctuary,

the gold blue of a plane-less sky

the garnet sheen of an empty concert hall

be our sacred offering,

meager gifts of absence from wise and less wise-hearted people.

Please God let our ceasing be enough.

Let our hospital beds be enough.

Let our slow awakening to the interconnectedness of every living being be enough

Let a pillar of stillness rest at the entrance to every home and prison.

Let this plague pass over us, enough of us.

Enough.

Shabbat Shalom dear chaverim, far and wide,

Kristin Flyntz – STOP: An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans

Stop. Just stop.

It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.

We will help you.

We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt

We will stop

the planes

the trains

the schools

the malls

the meetings

the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our

single and shared beating heart,

the way we breathe together, in unison.

Our obligation is to each other,

As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.

We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,

to bring you this long-breaking news:

We are not well.

None of us; all of us are suffering.

Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth

did not give you pause.

Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.

Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.

You have not been listening.

It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.

But the foundation is giving way,

buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.

We will help you.

We will bring the firestorms to your body

We will bring the fever to your body

We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs

that you might hear:

We are not well.

Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.

We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.

We are asking you:

To stop, to be still, to listen;

To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;

To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;

To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?

To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?

To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?

How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?

Many are afraid now.

Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you.

Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,

listen for its wisdom.

What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk,

beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?

As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health,

what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky,

and all of us who share this planet with you?

Stop.

Notice if you are resisting.

Notice what you are resisting.

Ask why.

Stop. Just stop..

Be still.

Listen.

Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.

We will help you, if you listen.

Richard Hendrick, OFM – Lockdown 

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.


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