The day before Category 5 Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on the island of Puerto Rico, most people were scrambling to leave the island for the mainland. Not Franciscan Sister Donna McGartland; she was just arriving to weather the storm with her sisters in community. On Sunday, Oct. 1, Sister Donna and our sisters from Puerto Rico safely arrived at Mount Alvernia in Millvale, Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, Sister Donna penned this poem.

The Symphony of the Hurricane

By Donna McGartland

In an island where music is the very life of the culture
And Dancing is the heartbeat of the soul,
To experience silence is to walk through a desert
Parched and searching for water.

The Hurricane sang its tune in Puerto Rico
The Howling wind was the sound of bleating bagpipes played by an amateur
The Rains battering the walls, maracas
Cement posts tumbling to the ground created the somber drum beats
Roofs from nearby houses hitting against other structures were wooden sticks
banging a cowbell with no respect for the ear of the listener.

The music of destruction
All playing its own melody
Not one instrument listening to the other.

Utter Chaos
The rhythm of which could never be replicated.

Then the Silence
The solemn sound of Nothingness
Darkness
Emptiness

Piercing the Soul
As if the Crucifixion had just happened
And the Narrator proclaims with tears
“Jesus gave up his Soul, bowed his head and died.”

Silence…

The sound of once joy-filled people in shock
Some of whom have sought protection in a tomb
With voices never to be heard again.

Silence…

Vocalists searching for their voice
Trying to find songs that fit their experience
Looking desperately for others to accompany them.

Eventually, the music will be heard again…

Listen carefully—
The Rainsticks are beginning to flow
The softness of the Güiros setting the tempo
The Cuatros, once restrung, will carry the melody

As slowly,
The promised sounds of cranes, trucks and architects
Begin to heal its broken heart.

And finally,
The Trumpet will resound
In all its fullness!!
Easter Alleluias will be sung!

The bonds of Silence will be shattered.

And all Creation will dance in Harmony
With the Song of Resurrection!