As an unapologetic optimist, hope is normally not hard to find. The COVID-19 second wave has descended on us this fall like a deep west coast fog. All summer we knew it was coming. Many of us relaxed bathing in the familiar relationships and interactions we so missed. How could this be happening again?
My hope is so tired, stuck, struggling under this fog that feels so immanent, my heart is heavy, waiting. Hoping for something hopeful to appear.
We are entering the season of light celebrated in the belief that darkness is temporary. To remind us that even though we cannot see the light it will return. It is a season that is meant to feed hope and restore us.
We embrace this season by attending concerts and parties offered specific to the season. We relish in relationships and consider the gifts we will share on that one day set aside for us all to be together. Family, friends, festivities fill us - feed us. This year these festivities will for most be virtual if at all.
When I wrote the book Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times I had not envisioned a pandemic that might infuse every aspect of our lives. I wrote it to discover ways to deliberately strengthen community in a belief that if we act with intent our communities would be better for all.
As we are told to socially isolate we accept that community is not essential. We are told that actions which separate us, that are designed to minimize interactions, that isolate us at home are good for us. Social isolation is enforced.
We also understand that this virus is dangerous and until we find a cure or a vaccination we have no choice but to be safe. We wear masks, we stay home and we are very smart about engaging with others. Then how do we stay safe and fill our need for community? How might we embrace the light? I want to share four ideas that may restore our hope.
A story is unfolding all around us. A friend suggested we are "making history", he encouraged me to not miss this opportunity to observe. Taking the time to hear each other's unfolding story is essential to building relationship and opens the door to deeper interaction.
Being home, embracing virtual interaction has some benefits. For most of us we have "more time". I love stories of people hosting virtual dinner parties, taking up a hobby with their families. Having fun together with others is an effective way to build community.
There are so many ways we can care for each other while we physically distance. Sending cards with a lovely message, dropping flowers or a meal at people's homes. Baking seasonal delights to share. Sending a encouraging text. Phoning or zooming people who are down or ill. Making donations to a special charity. These are all ways we can express caring. Caring for each other is a terrific way to build community.
The most efficient way to build community is also the best way to restore our hope. By working together with family, neighbours and friends to build a better moment for others or to improve the lives of those in need creates a magical feeling so often associated with this season of light.
Last year, our extended family of 12 people played a game on boxing day. We all put some money in a box. Then we each shared which charity most needed that money and why. The first round of voting left us with two charities. Now we formed teams and worked together to tell a more in depth story about each charity. The final vote allowed us as an extended to choose a charity we would all support. This was not only fun but we also learnt a lot about unique charities in our community. We could easily do this online together.
The other day my cousin was joining a family zoom call to celebrate his birthday. When he called in all of his cousins and aunt and uncles and even grandma was on the call. We all gave him virtual gifts. It was a wonderful way to make someone's day.
It is challenging to express collective altruism while physically distancing - it requires someone to take initiative.
We would love to hear your stories this holiday season. Each one will build hope.
Please email me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org I will collect them and write a follow up article in the New Year.
- Learn more about Paul Born
- Explore Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times