The world feels dark and dangerous right now, but there’s hope and comfort to be found.
As the days and weeks drag on, with no definite end to the pandemic in sight, it’s easy to feel hopeless. Yet amidst the madness, there are little moments of peace and joy. If we look for it, there is still so much to be grateful for. And gratitude has a way of changing everything.
Here are just a few things to take note of …
1Communities are pulling together.
A common enemy brings people together, and that’s the case as the global community faces this scourge. Celebrities are uniting to read stories and raise money to feed kids. Writer Simcha Fisher penned a beautiful reflection on the good and beautiful things that have come about during this pandemic:
People are helping each other. At-home parents are taking in the kids of working parents; people are dropping off casseroles on the porches of neighbors under quarantine; food trucks and restaurants are delivering free food to kids locked out of school lunch programs. People are using social media to make matches between those who can get around and those who cannot, so no one is abandoned. Many power and water companies are suspending shut-off notices; landlords are forbearing on collecting rent, while their tenants scrape by without wages; apartment houses are offering free lodging to students left stranded when their universities abruptly closed; some internet providers are offering free service so everyone can stay connected; basketball players are donating portions of the salary to pay the wages of arena workers whose work has been halted; people are scouting out hard-to-find foods for friends with restrictive diets. I have even seen private citizens offer to help pay the rent for strangers, simply because there is a need.
In neighborhoods and families all over the world, people are going out of their way to help each other, and it’s heart-warming and hope-giving to witness.
2Many families are getting to spend more time together.
In the hustle of school, work, extracurricular activities, and chores, it can be hard to find carefree timelessness as a family. Whether it’s enjoying school in pajamas or playing board games in the afternoon “just because,” many families are appreciative of this sudden extra time with each other.
Of course, arguments and fights are inevitable, but even this can be an opportunity for problem-solving and building communication skills (especially if you encourage your kids to resolve their disagreements together!).
3There's more time for prayer.
Whether because the pandemic presents a serious reason to turn to God in prayer, or because there’s more down time in the day, prayer is a focus for many of those staying at home. Nathan Schlueter suggests that families turn this time into a retreat, and be intentional about praying together and growing closer to God. He writes,
Make this like a family retreat. That means making regular family prayer the center of your plan. We are praying the Litany of St. Joseph each morning, and the Rosary each evening, making each bead a special intention, for the sick, for health-care workers, for the homeless, for vocations, for the conversion of souls, etc., etc.
This is a wonderful approach if you’re at home instead of continuing to go to work. Thinking of this time as a “family retreat” is a positive way to reframe isolation, and a chance to grow in holiness together with the people you love the most.
4There's time to indulge in hobbies.
I don’t know about you, but my social media feeds have been flooded with pictures of friends’ home organization projects and culinary masterpieces. Stuck at home, without a long commute or calendar packed with appointments, many people have the space in their day to undertake time-consuming cooking and baking projects (homemade yeast bread, anyone?), deep cleaning, to-do list items, and favorite hobbies.
5People are reaching out to connect with old friends.
Friends I haven’t talked to since college, family who live out of state, and my neighborhood pals are all reaching out on social media. We’re checking in on each other, we’re having “virtual play dates” with show-and-tell over FaceTime, and my aunt is reading storybooks to my kids on Zoom.
Although it’s no substitute for in-person connection, I’m grateful for the modern technology that makes it possible to talk and connect with people all over the world, without ever leaving home.
6We have a new appreciation for the small pleasures of life.
Laura Kelly Fannuci published this poem on Instagram that moved me to tears:
It is exactly those smallest of things—”a boring Tuesday, coffee with a friend”—that many of us are missing the most right now. I suspect that after this pandemic has passed, and things have returned to normal, we will have a new gratitude for these little joys instead of taking them for granted.
As we continue our self-isolation, I get through difficult moments by imagining what I’m most looking forward to when this is all over. Every summer, my neighborhood friends and I have backyard cook-outs at each other’s houses. The kids run around in the grass, the husbands man the grill, and my best friend makes her famous margaritas.
Normally I take these gatherings for granted; we do it every summer, what’s the big deal? But right now, thinking about these casual evenings is what’s getting me through. When I can finally be together with my friends again, enjoying a meal and relaxing time laughing and talking, I think I’ll be overcome with gratitude.
May we never lose appreciation for the gift of these ordinary little things that we are all missing so much right now.
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