I don’t think anything feels better than being able to see the sun come out after multiple days of rain. It brightens your spirit and lifts your mood and even makes you feel better physically. It gives you more pep in your step. It is as if it lightens the load, whatever it may be. You feel warmth even in the dead of winter. The light and the warmth are signs of hope.
I don’t think the world has ever needed hope more than it does right now. There is a meme almost everyday referring to 2020 being the worst year of life thus far. I can say without a doubt, it is not my worst year. I will admit it has challenged me in ways I never imagined, but it’s not my worst year. The challenges of 2020 are those of loss of freedom, loss of safety, loss of physical contact, loss of jobs and businesses, all of these devastating. Of these, what I think I miss most is the experience of seeing expressions on the faces of not only those we love, but those of perfect strangers. It is an unspoken language, a kindness we give to others freely and openly. It says “good morning” or “I’m having a great day” or maybe “ I’m not”, “I am struggling”. It can say “ Can you help me?” or “I’ve got this”. It can say “I’m overwhelmed” “I’m scared”, all the while without uttering a sound. Yes that is what I miss the most, kindness and compassion expressed in the simplest of ways.
This Pandemic will end someday and the clouds will part, the darkness will give way to light and the sun will once again shine brightly on our world. If this occurred today, what would that look like? In the beginning, I thought the virus had brought out the best in people. We immediately found strangers going to the aid of strangers, lifting them up, providing whatever they needed to survive. Today, I see a lot more of “how is this affecting me” and “I need to protect myself”. It is a complete change of course. With so much loss, isn’t it the perfect time to grant grace to those around us. Isn’t it the perfect time to use what we’ve learned in the last 9 months to love and appreciate the life we had before?
There are always going to be dark, cloudy days. There are going to be storms, tornados and hurricanes. There are going to be wild fires in areas that suffer devastating heat waves causing the land to be dry and scorched. There are going to be days without sun, without warmth and without light, but there should never be a day without hope. Without hope, we may as well keep the mask on forever, hiding our expressions from the world.
My worst year was 2010 and I found myself grieving for my daughter. Her death was a spiral of thoughts and emotions I didn’t know existed. It began my journey to find hope. I looked high and low, near and far, trying to find the answers to questions I had that no one could answer. Why, because there was no answer. It was a journey that evolved over time, involving many people along the way. It was filled with pain and uncertainty. It was dark and cold and lonely, but the one thing I found got me through the day was what I received from others. Whether it be family, friends or perfect strangers, the grace they showed me helped me in the darkest of days. I don’t think I could have survived without it.
I’m not happy without sunshine and warmth, whether it be through actions or deeds. I could be the recipient or the giver and in both cases, my life can change it’s course or I can change the course for someone else. Never underestimate the power of kindness, the tentacles of a kindness can reach across the miles. You may never know how you affected someone, but you will know if it made you feel warm and hopeful. Yes, we have a lot on our plate, but maybe, just maybe if we share the load, the light will show through. Someday the Pandemic will end and new and different challenges will confront us. Let’s learn from this and find ways to walk through the darkness together, seeking hope for better days, waiting for the sun to shine again…