In times like these we get to find out what we are really made of; our strengths, weaknesses, and what really matters. We are pared down to the bone, required to be creative, and hopefully, compassionate. An old song says to look for the silver linings, which are always behind the clouds. Here are a few; see how many more you can add to the list.

We are checking in with one another more often. Just calling to ask how someone is doing can alleviate a lot of loneliness and fear. People are sharing good news.

One of my cousins lives near Seattle. She could be wailing and worrying about living in an area that has more trouble right now than some of us. Instead, she emails me pictures of her husband mowing the lawn, knowing that back here we are desperate to see some green. She included pictures of the flowers in her yard, and the neighborhood.

A local friend reports that her early bulbs are now bursting into bloom, albeit in the garage.

My ranch families have extra calving help, now that their teens and are not in school. They divide into shifts so everyone gets some sleep. Young adults whose jobs are on hold can help with ranch chores and cooking.

My priest, and others from the church have sent out prayers of comfort.

Families are learning how to talk to one another and have meals together instead of running off in all different directions. There’s time to play board games and such.

One young mom said she’s conducting lessons. Today is Cooking 101. Tomorrow will be Laundry 101. Perhaps some of the youth who were never required to do the basics will now become more self-sufficient.

There’s time to notice things around us; the deer that comes to the yard and looks in our window, a pheasant under the cedar tree, a person on the street that looks downcast. And there’s time to say a prayer for everyone who crosses our minds or our line of sight.

We are doing all these things that we should have been doing all along. My friend says she’s never sung Happy Birthday so many times (while washing hands). I suggested varying the routine with Hail Mary and Our Father.

The emphasis on sports in our culture has faded somewhat. Nothing wrong with sports, but now we are seeing that they have become a religion, and that’s unhealthy.

There have been some nasty surprises, of course. Some of us have realized how much we lean on others, rather than our faith, or our own resources. That needs changing. We’ve had to look at our own tendencies to panic and run amuck. When shelves emptied out in some larger towns, people drove to smaller communities, and cleared out the stores there. There have been physical altercations in grocery aisles. I thought we were better than that.

Here’s the most important lesson for me. I am telling people I love them a lot more. I hope that whatever you are doing to compensate, that will be your top priority too.

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