Here in Michigan the virus has finally landed, and it’s as though we are all frozen on the decks of our tiny, respective ships, balanced at the beginning of a wave whose height and power we cannot know. Every single one of us has been swept suddenly into the same stunned circle; we are more apart but oddly more together than before. We’re waving furiously across the distances, calling to each other over the roar. We’re shouting jokes, obscenities, comforts, songs.
Restaurants are feeding the hungry and asking for nothing in return. Children are hosting impromptu cooking shows on Facebook Live. Musicians are streaming free concerts, teachers are sharing resources, veteran homeschoolers are encouraging flummoxed parents to lower the bar. That one hilarious dude from my high school is curating memes for my Facebook feed that fit the exact shape and size of the dark humor room in my soul.
I went shopping for food the other day – now an uneasy endeavor – and a woman in the parking lot said, “Can you smell that? The rain? That’s the first time this year that the rain has smelled like spring.” Honestly, I had been so nervous about grocery shopping that I hadn’t even noticed it was raining. I stopped there on the asphalt and took a deep breath. “Thank you so much for making me notice that,” I said, and even though that was probably a weird thing to say, the woman smiled and waved and told me to have a good day.
What I’m trying to say is, this is who we are. Is there any better news? I have hoped that this is who we would be, and now I know, and how glorious is that? We are a people whose instinct, when confronted with fear, is so often to open rather than to close. For the common good, we shut down our lives, we cancel our plans, we give away what we can. We run errands for the elderly, we babysit the children of healthcare workers, we open our windows and we sing. We remember those who, in the busy-ness of our previous lives, we might have overlooked. We recognize that we need each other, maybe even that we love each other, even our own personal strangers. And in the midst of all this fear and uncertainty, all of this astonishing love is shining forth, a strand of lighthouses lining the bay, illuminating this rough new water.
And so I send out this small essay – a beacon, a lamppost, a love letter. Take heart, beloveds. There is so much goodness afoot.