Our family’s spring break trip was hijacked by the virus but instead of staying home, a friend graciously allowed us to use her cabin in the woods. We relocated our shelter in place a few hours North, enabling our vacation to truly feel like a vacation, and for that, for her, I am eternally grateful. Finding moments of normalcy in this time is a balm to our souls.
Yesterday, we road-tripped to a National Park. At first I felt guilty, escaping the confines of four walls while so many are stuck at home, but also grateful for a normal spring break experience. Except one thing was different. Nobody we met that day smiled.
All present in the park were consciously practicing social distancing, waiting at offshoots on trails for others to pass by and parking every other spot in the lots. Joyful conversation was shared among families, but we barely acknowledged those nearby. It was as if all were afraid that a smile would invite others to draw near; that a smile would break the social distancing rules. But smiles don’t spread disease. They spread comfort. Smiles signal that you care.
During this time of uncertainty, there is absolutely one easy way we can spread hope. We can smile. Smiles are contagious in the very best of ways, and they will never run scarce.
As far as I can tell from social media, we have one group of people still smiling in our midst: our children. Children find joy in the direst of circumstances. Think of the Pevensie’s adventures in the wardrobe, or the Derry Girls’ ability to laugh during the Irish troubles.
Our kids are joyful.
But they are also bored.
I have this idea of matching the vast joy of our children with the vast need of our community, but I need help. I’m not exactly sure what we can safely offer.
It feels safe for our children to send cards to people in nursing homes. It feels safe for our teens to pick up a few extra groceries for our elderly and immunocompromised neighbors. What other ideas do you have? Let me know in the comments and, assuming we like the idea, I’ll work to put together a way to match those with needs to those with time and joy to spare.
Much like the boy in John’s Gospel was the instigator to Jesus’ loaves and fishes miracle, our children can be the drivers of the goodness we spread right now.
Share your ideas and I’ll be in touch soon.