I have been a fan of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry since I heard her read her poem Gate A-4. The other day, I received an e-mail containing another poem of hers, one that seemed to me particularly good to share in these pandemic days. Rather than the text, here is Nye, reading her poem Kindness.
May 24 will be the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s encyclical letter, Laudato si (On Care for our Common Home). The Pope invited Catholics around the world to celebrate Laudato si week from May 16 (yesterday) through the anniversary day of May 24.
The message of the Encyclical has continuing importance to our world. The symptoms of environmental degradation that he outlines in the early part of his encyclical continue to be manifest today. Indeed, in the United States, the relaxation of pollution standards by the current administration contributes to a worsening of the situation Francis described give years ago. And the inequalities that he spoke about are more apparent today in light of the pandemic.
In his address to the faithful today, the Pope said that “in this time marked by the pandemic we are more aware of the importance of caring for our common home.” He invited all of us to think about and undertake “a shared commitment to help build and strengthen constructive attitudes aimed at caring for Creation.”
We ignore that invitation at our own peril. As the Pope remarked in March, when he invited Catholics to take part in Laudato si week, “The cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor cannot continue.”
Note: If you still haven’t read Laudato si, you can read it in full here. For quicker reference, see this 2015 article from America magazine highlighting the most important takeaways of the document.
My greatest prayer during these days of pandemic is that we – individually and as a society – learn from this experience.
My friend Richard shared the below video with me earlier today. I’ll say nothing more than: Watch it.