Monday, April 6, 2020

Something is Spreading

Something is spreading right alongside the COVID-19 virus.  While America is self-quarantining, while hand sanitizer and other necessities are flying off store shelves in an effort to protect loved ones from The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 (and WHAT, pray tell, does stocking up on toilet paper ultimately accomplish??), we are seeing another side of our fellow human beings.  There may be the occasional negative news story about people who are being less than thoughtful, but we are seeing a new viral sensation...have you noticed?


Yes, panic is causing some folks to respond with hoarding, but the overwhelming majority of Americans are stepping up with acts of kindness that are truly remarkable.  Masks are being made in homes across our land to help protect our front line medical staff, people are sharing food, offering drive by birthday parades, and in our town one woman was even offering breast milk! 

I know we have personally been impacted by amazing goodness at every turn, including people making a point to buy pizza as they know we are a fledgling business and not likely to make it through this without a concerted effort.  An old friend who owns his own restaurant in town even used his own business' social media page to plug Buckaroos and a couple of other mom and pop places who are newish and need support.  How extraordinary is that?  We had another person from our church, who we will keep anonymous, send us a check that will cover payroll for a week.  They had no clue how much that will really help us out!  This has really hit at a bad time for Buckaroos, but we are praying daily for the ability to make it through, and the generosity and intentional purchasing of others has so far worked.

Catastrophes are where the rubber meets the road, and were the best and the worst of us is revealed...sometimes in the same person!  Anxiety can make the kindest person act in ways that are appalling, and yet also call on the most altruistic parts of them.

Humankind has a surprising capacity for great good, or great evil.  

I tend to think that when we are truly listening to God, we can't help but see ways in which we can help others and we feel a strong urge to do so.  I also think that when we are the most distant from God is when our selfishness rises and it becomes harder to see the need around us, and harder still to feel drawn to assist.  

Wouldn't it be something if we all moved out of this scary moment in history having gained not only better hand washing practices, but also finding that kindness rooted itself in humanity like never before and blossomed across the globe?  What if this lasts long enough that thinking of others, and working together to solve problems became a habit in the majority of us?  How would our world be impacted by that sort of lasting change?

And what if those COVID-19 maps reflected the gradual transformation of every society on earth rather than the spread of a deadly virus?  What if it was kindness being tracked and not a diagnosis?

It starts right in your own home and in your own circle, and it is not an impossible dream!  Oh, I know the cynicism that many walk around with, and how preposterous it seems to reconstruct our world into one that is gracious and good.  But what if I told you that half the battle is simply noticing the generosity and compassion that already exists? I don't believe we live in a world that lacks kindness, I believe we live in a world where kindness isn't celebrated nearly as often as indifference or hatred is.  What if we all made a concerted effort to elevate the goodness we witness in the world, if we all highlighted the best there is among us rather than the worst?

Let me share with you the goodness that shined the past few days in my life...

Matt and Josh are my COVID Companions.  We are basically on house arrest while the other four are out in the world working, as we simply have no choice right now and need the income and Buckaroos can not close unless we are forced to.  We have moved Kenny and Dominick down to our TV room, and they are living down there and sharing the bathroom with the girls, so that we three can have space where we are safe from anything they might bring home.  I am very susceptible to bronchial issues and am on daily asthma meds, and Josh also tends to get deep chest colds that are tough for him to shake, so we are being extra cautious.  I have basically been isolating for about five weeks now, and moving into week three in my "dorm room":

We moved in a small fridge and microwave so I can make life easier on everyone else and not have to have  them wipe down the kitchen and common areas six thousand times a day.  Poor Dominick and the couch!  But, we all realized this was safer for me, and this is love.  I get cute texts from Angie, Olesya, and Kenny keeping me up to date on everything, but we are trying to stay apart as much as possible.  

I couldn't have two better companions for this quarantine period (well, the other four aren't half bad either but I can't have them!)   They have been so helpful in cleaning up the kitchen, Josh washed my car yesterday, and a couple nights ago they set up our first ever fire in our fire pit.  We three had s'mores, looked at the stars, and laughed over camping trip disasters from their younger years.  They are kind, helpful young men who I am so lucky to call my sons.

Kindness and care starts at home, yes even for our dog Sunny!!

Now is the time for everyone to step up and help where they can, and that call is also for our family.  Being kind at home is one thing, and hugely important, but seeking out opportunities to help others is where the magic starts to happen:

With toilet paper being a hot commodity, we learned of a group that needed help obtaining some.  Foster Alumni Mentors is a small entity in Grand Junction which provides mentors and support to young adults who have aged out of foster care.  Many couldn't find toilet paper, so we met that need because we could get a case from our commercial suppliers.  I know it isn't much, but it is a little way to pay it forward!

Kenny is part of Peer Kindness here locally, another entity that tries to spread kindness throughout our community.  They partnered with us this week to deliver pizzas to the grocery store staff in town.

Sometimes though, it isn't that something needs to be given or purchased, but spirits lifted and hearts reminded of connections.  One of the most touching moments of this past several weeks was this Saturday evening when dear friends from our church showed up and left palm fronds for us to celebrate Palm Sunday with.  They drove a two hour round trip, basically, to say, "We love you." as they stood 10 feet away.

There it was, another example of the viral nature of kindness.  Dale and Ruth Ann with their cute little masks and palms were spreading kindness, and they do so in numerous other ways...and I'll tell you they are two of the happiest people I know.

Kindness works that way, we think we are doing it to make others happy, and what happens is it spills over and fills us up as well!

So, while we are waiting anxiously for the novel coronavirus to decrease, we might be seeing in increase in something long lasting.  Time will tell if new habits are formed, if we begin to work together for good in the world in new ways. 

Something is spreading though, and looking for it might be the best way to find yourself wanting to multiply it!

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