Minnesota writer offers the world a spiritual antidote for the coronavirus

| April 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

‘When this is over’

The coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruptions in people’s daily lives, hampering or blocking the ability to go to work, attend school or celebrate public Mass.

But losses also fall into little things people might take for granted — meeting friends for coffee, dropping a child off at a birthday party or shaking someone’s hand.

Thoughts about the missing pieces to everyday lives percolated in the mind of Laura Kelly Fanucci, a writer and parishioner of St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove. Finally, one night in mid-March, while feeding her newborn son, she put down her thoughts in the form of a poem. She typed it on her smart phone — next to a shopping list for her family of seven.

Fanucci, 39, whose column “Faith at Home” runs in The Catholic Spirit and nationally, posted the poem the next morning on her Facebook and Instagram accounts — and she was amazed to see how quickly it struck a chord with people around the world.

The poem was soon shared millions of times. Halle Berry, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman and Maria Shriver shared it. The producer of Kelly Clarkson’s television show asked her to become part of its web-based broadcast.

The poem’s appeal was universal. Fanucci has lost count of how many languages in which it now appears. “It took on a life of its own, which was just amazing to see,” said Fanucci, the program director of the vocation-focused Communities of Calling Initiative at the Collegeville Institute at St. John’s University in Collegeville.

Simple and direct throughout, the poem concludes: “When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way — better for each other because of the worst.”

Pastors emailed about using it in sermons. Musicians asked about setting it to music. The poem is being used in a public art project in England that includes people writing what they are looking forward to once the pandemic ends. It can be found on her website, laurakellyfanucci.com.

Fanucci loves seeing how people have made the poem their own. High schoolers asked about printing it in their yearbook. Teachers use it in distance learning, encouraging children to write their own poetry. Some people write the poem in chalk on sidewalks. One woman emailed Fanucci a photo of a beautiful quilt she was making that incorporates words from the poem.

Fanucci appreciates being able to offer people some hope and light. “It was born out of my own worry and anxiety about everything that’s going on, but it’s been this really beautiful thing,” she said. “I think it resonated so deeply because it taps into … all those ordinary things that we really miss right now. … We don’t want to take those things for granted anymore.”

With a laugh, Fanucci added, “As a writer, I don’t know if anything I’ll ever write again will be read by that many people.”

She added that her prayer as a writer, at a deeper level, is “God help me be a channel for whatever you might want to speak to people.” Fanucci wonders if the poem was a piece of hope that people needed.

She also wonders if we will eventually go back to everything on her list. Will we still shake hands or will we find another way to meet and greet each other? And might people change from this experience for the better?

She recently talked with one of her older sons about stores reserving a shopping hour each day for the elderly, handicapped or immunocompromised. Her son asked her, “Well, why didn’t we always do that?”

When we talk as Catholics about the common good, she said, maybe that’s something we can keep going.

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Category: Local News