We in Minnesota are, like most sensible states, staying home. And as the weeks roll by, we are seeing more and more moments of people remembering their kindness in the midst of their isolation.
On March 27, it was my granddaughter’s birthday, and I wrote this Facebook post about one dose of sweetness: “Sometimes when it’s your 6th birthday and it’s a pandemic, it’s a bummer. Your party is cancelled. Your friends can’t come over. But then you and your family take a walk around your St. Paul neighborhood and magic happens. Suddenly, you realize little gifts have been left for you on porches and there are banners with your name on them, wishing you “Happy Birthday,” in the windows of houses—not just one or two houses but a dozen. And you can’t stop smiling. What a lovely way to turn 6, my granddaughter.”
Acts of kindness are shoving their way to the surface like spring flowers in this time of despair. These heart-opening actions should be noted and celebrated because they remind us how wonderful humanity can be and how absolutely, without-a-doubt connected we are. They are happening every day, before your very eyes, just look for them. Or better yet, be one of the kindness givers. Here are a few examples:
- Neighbors are cheering weary healthcare workers as they get off their shifts.
- A Minneapolis distiller is making hand sanitizer and donating it to homeless shelters—only to learn that in a surprising turn of events his charity is helping to sustain a shelter that kept him fed when he was 9 and hungry.
- An elderly neighbor finds a painted stone by her mailbox. It says, simply and dearly, “I love you.”
- Every week a couple orders takeout food—enough to last them for days—to keep their favorite restaurant alive and well.
- A Minnesota trooper stops a speeding car. Instead of giving the driver, a doctor, a ticket, he gives her a handful of masks.
- People in grocery stores are handing out gift cards to strangers and splitting open their package of valuable toilet paper to share.
- In typical Minnesotan fashion, shoppers are leaving the “last piece” of items—sanitizer, toilet paper, Spam—for others. (Part of Minnesota Nice is being willing to leave the last of anything for the next person. It is the polite thing to do.)
This is who we are—not the greedy-for-tourism-dollars folks who keep their beaches open while their death numbers rise (Georgia), not the power hungry who force citizens to risk their lives to vote in person in a time of plague (Wisconsin), and not the inept who can’t climb out of their own egomania long enough to govern (White House).
In a time of pandemic, it is just as important to save the spirit as it is to save the body. Thank you to all who are tending to our spirit.
As Albert Camus said, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger—something better, pushing right back.”
Look for your own invincible summer. And let’s hope this summer of sweetness lasts not just for a season, but for a lifetime.
Bored? Angry? Scared? Wanting to look at the pandemic in a different way? Check out Afraid in the Time of Pandemic and The Pluses and Minuses of Pandemic. And thank you to all who keep reading books, especially mine.