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Communities at Work – Signs of Hope

by Lois Szymanski


Even in the midst of a pandemic, you can always find signs of hope. You might be home alone for long hours with the kids and it feels like the world has flipped upside down. No one ever imagined a scenario like this, one where a tiny, unseen virus wreaks pandemic havoc. With the schools closed and workers furloughed, everyone is finding a new way to hold the fort down at home.

As I look around our community, I have learned that families are savoring extra time together, with hikes and walks and quiet talks. A 15-year-old friend recently shared how she and her mom have been baking together a lot, and how they started a garden.

Jenna Waybright of Gettysburg said she and her husband have loosened up some of the normal restrictions. They had a pajama themed day. When she went outside to take care of the horses, the kids ended up splashing in mud puddles.

“They were covered [in mud],” she said. “I wanted to be angry about it, but then remembered some of my best memories as a kid were just getting dirty playing outside. They didn’t care that it was cloudy and chilly. They had a blast!”

So many are reaching out to help others, too. Children are writing letters to seniors locked down in nursing homes. Others are sewing masks for medical personnel or delivering food to the elderly folks. When I ran out of elastic for hospital masks, Amy Gilford posted about it on her Facebook page.

Before I knew it, someone had dropped elastic off on my doorstep. Someone else mailed an entire roll from Florida, and another friend let me pick up elastic from her porch.

When we face hard times, people shine.

This pandemic knows no boundaries. My Canadian friend, Tamara Hoo-Mark and her husband Scott are still working. The schools are closed and the kids are taking on more responsibility.

“I’m on nights and Scott is on days,” she said. “Our kids are 7, 9, 10 and 12. They feed themselves and get dressed in the morning after Scott leaves for work, then go outside to play for a bit so I can sleep. Then we do schoolwork and reading, chores and meal prep when I get up. We have been doing daily yoga and hikes most days as well. We’re making it work.”

I think we are all doing that, making it work. We are stronger than we realized. Older couples too. My friend Cori Brown said she’s finding the beauty.

“A quiet routine has settled here in our house,” she said. “Some days are a bit slow and restless, but it’s all for the best.

Thankfully, the birds are much more active now. I’m hearing warbler calls that seem familiar, but I’ll have to relearn again. Spring is always inspiring and keeps me going, especially in these troubling times.”

The birds we see and hear and the flowers and trees bursting into bloom seem more intense, more colorful. Maybe that’s because we’ve slowed down enough to notice. Maybe that’s the sun, shining behind the clouds.

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