6. COVID-19: capturing the essence of the time we are living in

Dear Parents,

COVID-19 has arrived, and it signals we may be entering an Era of Pandemics. Even after we develop a vaccination, there will likely be another novel coronavirus, and the cycle will begin again. It is a new normal. However, pausing and reflecting, witnessing how people around the world are responding, there is hope.


This letter will be about COVID-19: capturing the essence of the time we are living in


Throughout history, to capture the essence of the time we are living in, we have turned to the humanities and fine arts to provide understanding, guidance, and insights about human nature. Great poetry is often written during great times of struggle, and the Irish seem to have a particular talent for the written word. During our current crisis, the Irish have not disappointed – a heart-gripping poem is currently spreading around the globe, written by Brother Richard Hendrick, an Irish Capuchin Franciscan friar in Dublin, Ireland. Through his poem, “Lockdown,” Hendrick captures our common humanity, through descriptions of the loneliness, helplessness, isolation, and fear that we all feel, and yet, like an unexpected beautiful sunrise, hope and beauty is on the horizon. 


COVID-19 may be holding us hostage right now, but it can never cage our spirits. Here is the poem, I share it with you to unite our community and remind us of the goodness and kindness around us:




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.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,



Always, with best regards, stay safe, Semper Gumby


Dawn Dekle, PhD

AUN President (Vice-Chancellor)


Teaser: stay tuned for the next letter from the desk of the AUN President, on the topic “COVID-19: why are some people in denial?”