One Good Thing

“Why didn’t we do this before?” she wonders one evening, through a screen.

We have long been scattered across the United States, friends from college who now celebrate love on the dance floor at friends’ weddings , who now dote on the babies and toddlers that join the crew. In these strange days of social distancing, the deep connections remain.

On Friday evenings these days, we hop on to a Zoom call. Spanning various ZIP codes and time zones, it dawns on us that we could have been doing this regularly all along. What used to be a rare celebratory occasion that would call us to the same geographic location is now the blessing and relief of a weekly video chat where there is no agenda except to be together (virtually). Why didn’t we do this before?

At some point, someone suggests that we share “one good thing” about our week. Even as we ask questions about the efficacy of face masks with the friend who is a doctor, even as we share anxieties about potential job losses, even as we describe new expectations at work and new challenges to parenting, this collection of “good things” remains. This practice of sharing one good thing leads to tangents and reminiscing of college antics. At times it is very loud, with shouts and giggles that are so familiar.

This collection of “one good thing” ranges from fun surprises in the mail to a family member’s funny antics over FaceTime to the return of sunshine to Wisconsin. And I know, deep down, that these good things were present prior to the pandemic. Did we care to notice? Why didn’t we do this before?

There’s something so sacred about sharing space, even if it is virtual, with others. We hold vigil, and it matters. There’s talk of due dates and maternity clothing and sharing of recipes. We bear witness to the pain and sorrow of the world, together in spirit while physically apart. Some are drinking a glass of wine while others (well, basically all of us) are wearing comfortable pajamas. We talk about “when all of this is over,” yet we have no idea when that will happen or what “over” really means.

Somehow, the world keeps turning. I get to hear how a friend, a first-time mom, is coping with sleep training. I learn of the silly things another friend’s toddler utters at the dinner table. I see faces through a screen that bring welcome company to solo living. 

My prayer is that we keep seeking these meaningful connections long after safer at home orders are lifted. May we keep cheering for emergency room doctors and third-shift nurses, and respect and celebrate the unsung, everyday heroes and heroines who deliver the mail, stock the grocery shelves, and clean every surface in a building. May we recognize that daily walks in a neighborhood can happen regardless of a pandemic, and that our lives are mixes of deep sorrow and joy. May we savor “the one good thing” of our days and keep connections with old friends and loved ones scattered across the world as we adapt to a new normal.

Lisa Cathelyn is director of campus ministry at Alverno College. This reflection appears in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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