Peace in time of pandemic.

Embracing Peace in a Pandemic

Two weeks ago as the coronavirus was silently stealing into our lives, I made my usual weekly trip to Costco. But, of course, it was not my usual weekly trip. It was sheer mayhem! People were pushing and shoving, grabbing boxes, crashing carts into one another. Elbows poised for attack. Faces wiped of smiles. The clerk told me the paper towels and toilet paper had been cleaned out days ago. “Try to be here when we open,” she suggested.

As I drove home, I contemplated all the chaos. How odd that a strange little virus, a quirk of nature that we could not figure out, was closing schools, canceling sports events, and sending humans in droves to the grocery stores desperate for toilet paper. That morning my three upcoming events in Albuquerque were canceled. I knew this would probably cascade into cancelations from Los Angeles and Salt Lake, too. (It did.) The headlines declared we were diving into a pandemic, and on the news Lester Holt explained that a pandemic happens when a new disease for which people do not have any immunity spreads around the world.

Knowing a “pandemic” was beyond my control, I pulled out my laptop and sat down on the patio to cancel my reservations. After a week of rain, the sun was cutting a golden path across my backyard. As I wrote, the sun warmed my back and a cactus wren who likes to sunbathe on the block wall perched herself near me. Her song was shrill and demanding. I stopped tapping. I started listening. She had a stunning voice, and she held my attention with her message.

Of course, she was right. I had been missing the show. Missing the bigger picture. The peace. The beauty. The wind sculpture was throwing dancing shadows across the back wall that were reminiscent of Matisse’s dancers and beneath my little warbling friend the sun had thrown a ring of light onto the new pink guara that I had planted in the fall. The guara had shot up at least a foot in the last month, and it was sprouting fragile pink flowers that would rival any wedding bouquet, and it was aglow with a halo of light. I marveled at it.

In that moment I could feel the shimmer of spring coming. No virus. No cancellation. Nothing would stop it—the cycle of life would thread a path forward, and under the circumstances, I might have time to embrace it. To appreciate it. Of course, I wish the same for you.

As we try to meet the challenges of kids out of school, out-of-stock everything, and a lurking virus, may we notice the sun and the flowers and the trees—and may we be thankful for what we do have.


Italian singing from balcony during pandemic.

A girl sings from the window during the flash mob, March 13, 2020. Some people have organized a flash mob asking to stand on the balcony and sing or play something, to make people feel united in the quarantine. Getty Images


Upon finishing this blog, I discovered this heartfelt poem and I had to share it—


~Fr. Richard Hendrick


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.