I am thinking of my American friends today as the tragic death-toll from the virus there passes 100,000. These are mind numbing numbers and only the exercise of compassionate imagination can give us even a glimpse of the harrowing personal stories behind each one. When I began to hear our statistics mount on our own evening radio news, I found myself again and again in prayer, knowing that even though I only heard the numbers, God knew and loved and died for the people behind those numbers.
All this found its way into the concluding section of my Quarantine Quatrains which I am posting here as a poem on its own
At close of day I hear the gentle rain
Whilst experts on the radio explain
Mind-numbing numbers, rising by the day,
Cyphers of unimaginable pain
Each evening they announce the deadly toll
And patient voices calmly call the roll
I hear the numbers, cannot know the names
Behind each number, mind and heart and soul
Behind each number one belovèd face
A light in life whom no-one can replace,
Leaves on this world a signature, a trace,
A gleaning and a memory of grace
All loved and loving, carried to the grave
The ones whom every effort could not save
Amongst them all those carers whose strong love
Bought life for others with the lives they gave.
The sun sets and I find myself in prayer
Lifting aloft the sorrow that we share
Feeling for words of hope amidst despair
I voice my vespers through the quiet air:
O Christ who suffers with us, hold us close,
Deep in the secret garden of the rose,
Raise over us the banner of your love
And raise us up beyond our last repose.
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