Disturbing our peace of mind
Anxiety. Fear. Sadness. Depression. Anger. These are but a few descriptors that, even hearing, may disturb us. That invisible enemy, Covid 19, is still lurking among us. It has taken some, and left others with ominous physical affects and, yes, lingering mental stress as well.
It is a probable assumption that every one of us has experienced some, or all, of these symptoms. We are all part of the human family. We are never alone. Consider for a moment, however, other factors that branded these feelings deep inside our consciousness.
Which one of us has not felt the anguish of victims of floods, hurricanes, fires and war? One might even say that, along with Covid’s waves, these things also add to mental stress. Layered upon all, are rising costs of food, transportation, housing affordability and a multitude of other factors.
Every one of us is affected, some more than others. If it is less for those of means than the impoverished, we must remind ourselves that we are all part of the same family of humankind. When our sisters and our brothers die, are wounded, or lose all their possessions, it affects us all.
How painful it is for Indigenous people to remember what occurred as their land was being colonized by others. How their children were taken from their parents’ arms to residential schools, never to return.
Their language and customs were stolen from them. The uncovered secrets, the unmarked graves of innocent children have been exposed. How each one of us should feel the sadness in the hearts of our native sons and daughters!
In that context, I am writing also of the devastation across Canada’s Maritime provinces and eastern Quebec. As one of the choristers of Atlantic Voices, the Newfoundland and Labrador Choir of Ottawa, I have heard repeatedly many personal stories from those whose roots are in the Atlantic provinces. Hurricane Fiona wreaked havoc on so many of their families, their friends and loved ones.
During Covid, we were unable to convene to practice and present concerts. We maintained the choir with some losses, through death or members moving to other parts of the world. We then adopted a hybrid model which allowed most of us to resume our rehearsals live, with others opting to remain on Zoom for personal reasons. Our first concert in two years will take place on October 30th. The title of this concert is Weathering the Storms.
One of our members, Catherine, went home to Nova Scotia to celebrate her grandmother’s 100th birthday and her sister’s wedding. In the aftermath of the storm, here are her words:
“We lost hundreds of trees. Our house and our cars look like someone threw chopped salad over them. My grandmother’s [house] got the storm surge and extensive water damage on the first floor when some outside panelling came off and exposed the insulation. Lost shingles too and water came in. My sister will not be able to get married there next Saturday.”
Disturbed by all these revelations, I wrote this poem:
Weathering the Storms
A tempest of words rages within me
Mangled words and broken-up phrases
Better arrange them in straight lines on paper
Separated by fingerprint spaces.
When storms of life are raging around us
Our world comes apart at the seams
Better to pause and pick up the pieces
To sew back together our dreams.
When those dark clouds have finally parted
Safely we'll sail onto shore
Where in straight lines our boats will be anchored
Rocked to sleep after last tempest's roar.