The world has gone quiet. For the first time in living memory, St. Patrick’s Day – Ireland’s national holiday – went by without fanfare, without a glittering parade, without throngs of people lining the streets.
Last week, supermarket shelves were stripped bare … but then stories of kindness began to trickle in. I heard of shoppers inviting elderly people to move ahead of them in queues; supermarket employees filling an old man’s shopping list without accepting any money in return; businesses offering free deliveries and opening their doors at times set aside solely for vulnerable people.
Today, I had to visit the bank and get some groceries. The places I visited all had a policy of only allowing two or three customers to be inside at any one time, with a two-metre distance to be maintained throughout. Whilst queuing to get inside, I made conversation, I smiled and I connected with other people in a way that rarely happens under normal circumstances. I chatted with a man outside the bank, about his family and how they’re coping during these strained times. I spoke to a yoga teacher who told me she had posted her first ever live-streamed yoga class earlier, and had been nervous about it initially, but she had gotten a lot of positive feedback.
The world has gone quiet. Anxiety and hope sit side by side. There is optimism. There is fear. There are moments that will forever shine in my memory – small incidents that show me just how loving and compassionate human society could be, if we all lived at a slower pace – and there are moments that send me crashing down to earth.
Above all else, there is silence.
And as that silence pulls us inward – encourages us to retreat from the external world – it will mean many different things to different people. The silence will allow many to reflect: to think seriously about changes they want to make, and to face issues that can no longer be ignored. The silence is allowing some ecosystems to show signs of recovery from human activity. In many of the world’s cities, it’s bringing air pollution down: revealing a clear sky that has long been blanketed by smog. The silence is stoking anxiety in the hearts of those who fear for their health, their income, their livelihood.
The silence will bring grief, revelation, tragedy, reassurance, tears, laughter, and everything else in between.
The silence encompasses everything … and while it continues to loom large over our lives, all we can do is wait.
Meanwhile, spring unfolds all around us. Flowers reveal their beauty. Nature blooms and embraces new life. ❤