“When the storm passes and the roads are tamed, and we are the survivors of a collective shipwreck”
The opening line of the Covid era poem called Esperanza (Hope) by Alexis Valdes.
"When the storm passes" (Esperanza - Hope) Poem by Alexis Valdés
We will miss the old manasking for a dollar in the marketwe didn't know his namealthough he was next to us And perhaps…
‘A collective shipwreck’ yes it feels like we are all experiencing this together as if we are aboard a ship. The wrecking of the ship is unusual in that it is happening to the passengers rather than the ship. In a sense, the image of the ship could be seen as holding us as we go through this experience.
“With a weeping heart and a blessed destiny we will feel happy for being alive.”
I hear ‘relief’ in this line. A picture emerges of someone just rescued who can only be aware that they are alive. In that moment that is all that matters. The weeping combines the pain of the trial and the joy of surviving.
“And we will hug the first stranger and praise the luck of not having lost a friend”
I can’t recall an occasion when I have hugged the first stranger but I recall an occasion when I ‘bumped into’ someone I knew but hadn't seen for some time. In the intervening time, she had a baby who was now a toddler. It was as we were talking that suddenly the child leapt from her into my arms. It was before I was a father (something I never assumed being) but in that child’s act, it was a sign that I already was.
The luck of not having lost a friend brings me back to ‘The troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Each day I would awake alert to the possibility that someone could be shot or a bomb could go off. I would go about my day holding that alertness with me. Somedays you would hear that a bomb had gone off or that someone had been shot nearby and immediately my mind would question, “Has anyone I know been caught up in it?” Only to stop once the facts were known.
“And then we’ll remember everything we lost, And all at once we will learn all we had not learned before”
We are not on the other side of this Covid 19 experience. We will know we are when we speak in terms such as, “Do you remember during Covid 19?” It is difficult to remember losses while we are focussed on ‘getting through’. Yet I find my mind wandering back to Northern Ireland and thinking about the losses as a result of ‘The Troubles’.
The losses where perhaps in never having relations with cousins ‘who were from the other side’. Never knowing people for who they were without seeing them through the lens of ‘Catholic’ or ‘Protestant’
I remember working as a student in Galway City centre in the West of Ireland and thinking, “I don’t have to worry about a bomb going off.”
Yet there were times during the troubles when ‘both sides’ suffered or when all felt each other’s humanness. In these moments we were seeing beyond religion. I will be forever grateful that after almost 30 years peace dominated the agenda and the violence significantly reduced.
“We will no longer be envious because we have all suffered”
Suffering eradicates the superficial as we learn what really matters. It is usually the superficial that creates envy but suffering brings us deep and with it we learn something of the individual journey we are all on and know we have our path to be walked.
“We will no longer be lazy, And we will be more compassionate”
I think the use of the word lazy may infer that we don’t make an effort when we should. Not sure when but somehow I learned that lesson to make the effort however we can always become more compassionate. I find as I build a connection with another and hear their stories my ability to become compassionate increases.
“What belongs to all will be worth more than that never achieved, We will be more generous and much more committed”
We have discovered the parks, the rivers the places on our doorsteps than we overlooked preferring distant fields. By appreciating what we have has taught us also to be at home with ourselves.
“We will understand how fragile it means to be alive, We will sweat empathy for who is and who has left”
When you read this do you experience like me a sense that Covid 19 has had the effect of reminding our bodies, soul and mind of past experiences? For anyone who has lived through a nation in conflict or turmoil, Covid 19 will be a reminder rather than a teacher.
“We will miss the old man asking for a dollar in the market,
we didn't know his name although he was next to us
And perhaps the poor old man was your God in disguise
You never asked for his name because you were in a hurry”
It is worth asking what we would miss? When we do we may be surprised that those things we were irritated by become the very things that we seek.
“And everything will be a miracle and everything will be legacy
And life will be respected the life we have won”
Perhaps life better prepared some of us for living as we are. If it takes Covid 19 to teach us that the only moment we have is the moment we are in we will have gained.
“When the storm passes I ask God, full of sadness to return us to be better as he had dreamed we would be.”
Is the secret to become or allow ourselves to become ‘the better’ right here now?