Lent 21: The Hope of Spring

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Now that we are really, really in Work at Home lockdown, I though I’d move my workspace from my dining room table up to the desk in our spare room. I paced around the room unhappy with the prospective space, and I went to look out the window at the storm raging outside. In the fall, I brought my fig trees up to this room. It’s the coolest room in the house, perfect for putting the figs during their dormant season. But today, as I frowned about the workspace not coming together as I hoped and the prospect of weeks or months of being under social distancing weighing heavily on my mind, I looked at my figs. They are starting to grow. There are tips of green growth that will bud out to big green leaves all summer and into the fall. The message was clearly to snap-the-f*ck out of it. Look for hopeful signs, and you’ll find them.

There are lots of places where life is stirring. The tufts of Spring Starflower foliage, and the points of tulip leaves have already pushed through the leaf detritus. King Louie comes in from his perimeter march with muddy paws. This year, instead of shaking off the winter and heading outdoors to gather, we withdraw into our own space, quarantined with those we live with. It is truly strange times. On the spring equinox in years past, I’d be writing about how the stirring of life in my yard and my garden is matched by the stirring of hope and of growth in my heart.

This year, it’s different, but also the same. I’ve spent more time on Instagram lately, because there is little else to do. The ways people have found to come together while maintaining the safety of social distancing is astounding. Just a few that have been keeping me cheered:
Colonel Chris Hadfield (@colchrishadfield) and his 4year old granddaughter have thrown down a Refrigerator Art Challenge (and if there’s ever going to be a kickass challenge, you know there’s an astronaut and a preschooler at the wheel).

Jennifer Garner (@jennifer.gardner) has the #heyjenlookatme hashtag trending because she knows that people (from daycare spring concerts to major productions) have been busting their tails to get ready for performances that have been cancelled. Jennifer wants you to show her what you’ve got.

Kirsten Vangsness (@kirstenvangsness), the former Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds is reading stories in the evening, and doing PIE Chart (working title) during the day to help people engage their minds and bodies. And she’s adorable, so it’s just a joy to listen to her.

Closer to home, friends are having virtual coffee/tea/beer o’clock over Zoom. And Netflix has a feature that lets you have a movie night with friends on lockdown. A friend who directed little theatre shows is gathering the cast for one of her shows to do a remote read of the script. Club Quarantine is hosting online LGBTQ dance parties. My tech nerd friends are figuring out ways to just have a tech-based partyline where peers and colleagues can drop in to chat with whomever’s there, and drop out. Another friend’s community is hosting a “Neighbourhood Window Walk”: People put pictures in their windows for whatever the theme of the day is, and when parents take their kids for a walk, they look for the pictures. Excellent.

These are a few of the hundreds of ways people are coming together. They’re struggling like we’re struggling, so they find a way to cope and share it in case it helps others cope too. And that, friends, is how we support each other through this thing.

So while there is certainly very serious and scary things going on in the world, there is also hope growing up from the muck. The way everyone from celebrities to neighbours to family is coming up with ways to forge community bonds is where joy lives. Take advantage of that, friends. Come up with challenges of your own. Participate in challenges other people put out there. Even if it’s silly. Especially if it’s silly.

This Lent, may hope abound.

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