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Sharon Randall: Staying whole in hard times

By Sharon Randall

Before it rained, I stepped out on the patio for a breath of fresh air and to see how many plants had been eaten overnight.

Our patio has a fence that’s four feet high. But apparently four feet isn’t enough to stop deer or rabbits or anything, really, least of all, a virus.

We do what we can. To avoid the coronavirus, we shelter in place, practice social distancing and wash our hands more often than we blink.

And the patio? Maybe next spring we’ll build a bigger fence.

But on this day, all was well. No plants had been eaten. Birds sang in the trees, looking for a mate and a safe place to nest. Flowers bloomed in profusion, pink and white and purple. Mountains were cloaked in clouds promising more rain.

I wish you could’ve seen it.

I’ve always loved the feel of rain on my face. When I felt the first drops, I smiled, took a long breath and went inside. That’s when I smelled it. Bacon.

My husband and I are in a higher risk age group, not just for coronavirus, but for lots of things. So we usually try to watch what we eat.

Years ago, we stopped eating meat. No special reason, we just thought it might be “better” for us. We eat fish and seafood, but no red meat or chicken. Lately, however, for some reason, I started missing bacon.

While sheltering in place, we’ve been fortunate to get groceries delivered to our door. Imagine my surprise when the last order I placed showed up with a whole pound of bacon.

This morning, I fried four slices, two for each of us, with hash browned potatoes and eggs. I don’t know if it was good for our health. But I assure you it was good for our spirits.

   We all need to take care of ourselves and each other in any ways we can. I’m thankful that, as of this moment, all of my loved ones’ needs are met. But my heart aches for so many people who are struggling to feed their families, or grieving the loss of a loved one or simply trying to stay alive.

Along with all the frightening concerns for physical health, we also need to consider emotional, mental and spiritual well being.

In hard times, it’s easy to feel like we’re falling apart. Here are things that help me feel whole.

Kindness: I look for stories about acts of kindness, rather than ones that cause me to fear. My favorite lately is about a landlord who lowered the rent for a family that lost half their income. There are countless such stories. We need to hear them and share them with each other. Kindness heals.

Beauty: I spend time in Nature — with mountains and birds and half-eaten plants on my patio — and online with people I love. I talk to family and friends and read to my grandkids on FaceTime. I even got to see a video of Jonah, my youngest grandchild, taking his first steps. Beauty calms.

Faith: I pray for strength in weakness, for courage in fear, for hope in hopelessness and for joy in despair. Sunday morning, at home in California, in my pajamas, I visited Cleveland Drive Presbyterian Church in Cheektowaga, N.Y. I’ve known the pastor and his wife almost 50 years. When I heard their church hosts a “sheltering in place” service on Facebook, I tuned in to worship with them and was reminded we are all in the same boat, all God’s children weathering the same storm.

Faith lifts us up, quiets our fears and gives us hope and joy.

Those are gifts we can claim for ourselves and each other. And years from now, when our grandchildren tell their grandchildren about this time in our history, they’ll recall not only hardship and despair, but a glorious litany of kindness and beauty, faith and strength, courage and hope and joy.

   They’ll remember stories we shared and marvel at how those stories never seemed to end, but were always … just beginning.

Sharon Randall is a syndicated columnist. She can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

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