Friday, March 27, 2020

Spring in The Time of Covid

The weather forecast was for 843 consecutive days of rain ahead, so Wednesday after work, I zipped down to Kits Beach to watch the sun set. Also? To look for signs of Spring in the form of Cherry Blossoms.

After a few hours, I sat on a secluded bench, looking out of the water, not licking anything, and called a friend who was have a bit of an anxiety attack.

This was my peaceful view as we talked.

Unexpectedly to me, but as if on cue, the peace was shattered with honking and yelling and cheering and boat blasts and whistles and it started on the beach over there, went clear across the water, and continued on the streets and balconies over there...

It was crazy and cool and fun and joyous and lifegiving and wonderful.
Me: It's goin nuts down here. SO much noise!
Her: It's 7 pm. Everyone's cheering for the health care workers!
Me: You should hear it. It's awesome.

It was such a happy sound.

Kate, Emma and Joey? (My future great grandchildren)

There will always be beautiful sounds in the midst of a world gone crazy.
And this Spring? Of 2020? Everything feels 'off' on earth right now.
Slowly, more and more countries are locking down their citizens (telling everyone to stay home) in order to stop the spread of the virus. Scientists and doctors predict massive numbers of deaths, world wide. Large portion of the population are out of work, the economy is crashing, fear and anxiety appear to be the top two emotions with raging anger a close third.

And yet.

And yet.

At 7 pm, every night, people stop what they're doing to cheer on the health - workers to show appreciation. And it's a beautiful thing.

Another breathtaking thing?
Besides the upcoming sunset pics?

Is the way people are coming together to help each other out.
I've had a close up look at how generous and willing people are, and it makes my heart sing and my elbows tingle.

I had volunteered to supply a hot evening meal on the 4th Saturday of the month for the homeless in Abbotsford. We were to prepare for 60 for this upcoming Saturday (some weeks it's as high as 80). The organization that works with the homeless is 5 and 2, so they'll do the actual serving.

I asked a few friends to help, because I am good at sending out emails. Less good at cooking. Maxine jumped on board to cook the main dish (she decided on Shepherd's Pie) and Marj, Heather, Maureen, Anne and Danica are all baking cookies for the dessert. (And who THANKED ME for the opportunity to help.) My job is to get bottled water for everyone, 5 dozen buns and a million pounds of ground beef during a time when everyone is being limited to 2 packages of meat per person.

I wasn't worried, I figured we'd get that meat one way or another.
God loves those homeless folks. He knows each of them by name. I was pretty sure He liked the idea of them getting one of Maxine's home-cooked meals.

First thing this morning I got a call. And another one. And a few anxious texts.

Her: We're not going to be able to get the beef.

Me: None?

Her: I called around this morning, no one will sell more than 5 pounds. My family will not let me drive to 8 different stores to get 8 packages of meat. It's not safe.

Me: Ok. Leave it with me.

Her: You shouldn't be going into 8 different grocery stores either. You're gonna catch it. Or infect someone.

Me: I've got to get back to work. I'll think about this at noon. There's always a Plan B. (I'm a project manager. This is what I do all the live long day.)

Her: But what are you going to DO?

Me: Pray about it, then leave it for now. I'll call you later. Don't worry. I'll have 40 pounds of ground beef at your front door on Friday night at 6.

Her: It can't be frozen.

Me: Gotcha.

Her: What are we going to serve it in?

Me: I'll figure that out later. Maybe go to Costco to see if they have something...

I worked all morning, then got some real clothes on, and make up, and drove up to my local grocery store. As I sat in the parking lot I went through my Rolodex of Friends in my mind. Who was a beef farmer? I could think of turkey farmer friends, chicken farmer friends, friends who could supply me with eggs, but I didn't think I knew anyone who might have half a cow in their freezer.

I walked into the store, went straight to the back to see how much hamburger meat they had in stock. There appeared to be lots. The refrigerated shelves were full.

"If only I could convince them that I wasn't intending on hoarding a bulk purchase for personal use..." I said to myself.

And then.

And then it occurred to me. They might not believe ME, but they WOULD believe their Director of Human Resources.

Me, texting the Director of Human Resources for this grocery chain: Heyyyyy. Any chance you could get approval for me to bulk buy some ground beef to feed the homeless? I need it for tomorrow.

Her: Gimme an hour.

Insert Jeopardy music here.

Her: There will be 40 pounds of freshly ground beef set aside for you tomorrow afternoon.

Me: I love you.

Her: What are you making? How will it be served?

(We're all hyper sensitive about staying 6 feet away from all human life forms.)

Me: Shepherd's Pie. I'm going to go to a dollar store to see if they have some sort of individual containers that we can put a scoop of pie, a bun, and a cookie on top, into.

Her: I have 120 large (900ml) yogurt containers with lids. Will they do?

Me: I have the best friends in the whole entire world. Yes. I think they'd be perfect.

Her: We'll sanitize them tonight, package them up, and leave them outside our front door for you.

Me: You are amazing.

So, Emma, Kate and Joey - the morals of the story are:

1. Don't freak out when the world is falling apart. The One who holds it all together is doing His job.

2. Don't be afraid to do things that are outside of your comfort zone (like making a meal for 60 -80 strangers and feed it to them outside, in a park, on a rainy day). It might be outside YOUR comfort zone, but your friends are itching to do the things they're passionate about, so for them, it'll be NO BIG DEAL.

3. Make lots of friends. Support them. And just watch them support you. It's the Best Feeling In The World to know your back is covered. I hope that someday, when you're sitting in a mostly empty parking lot, sifting through your CONTACT LIST in your mind, you'll feel rich because of the people in your life.

4. Pray about it. Then just watch God at work. It is so fun.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. My team at work. SUCH talented, thoughtful, inspiring people. I set up a new conversation thread for just the Creatives and asked, "Please share the unexpected blessings/surprisingly good things that you've experienced or witnessed this month."
And all day long, as ideas came to mind, they posted Good Things.

DO you know what that feels like? To get notifications, ALL DAY LONG about the Good Things that are happening right now? Social media and the news media fill our feeds with crap stories about hoarding, or people not distancing, or businesses making money during this crisis or government leaders who're not making wise decisions ... SO much toxicity out there.

But in my little work bubble, all I read was positive, uplifting, fun, appreciative stories.

Really. It doesn't get better than this.

2. I am proud to work for an organization that prioritized our safety during this season. But also our comfort.
Earlier this week, Emily asked if there was anything still in the building that we wish we'd brought home.

I thought, seeing I sit 8 - 12 hours a day in front of my computer, it'd be nice to have my office chair (instead of the kitchen chair I've been using.) Amy came to the same conclusion for herself as well.

So Joyce, who still works in a corner of the building, wheeled them down to the underground parking garage, and using physical-distancing guidelines, put them in separate stalls, for us to pick up.

They look like they've been naughty chairs, sent to the basement for a time out to think about their actions.

3. I am thankful for a healthy body, a fridge full of food, a job to keep my mind busy, a hill to walk up everyday, kids who mostly respond when I ask how they're doing, friends who keep in touch, noise cancelling ear buds that work like a charm, and a confidence in The One who Made It All that gives me peace.

4. I appreciate articles like this one, by Bill Gates. And this one which names the heavy feeling we're all feeling. They're both easy to read and well written. I'd recommend you take a few minutes.

Also? Thankful for random people on the beach having photo shoots done.

Or random girls, practicing social-isolation, next to empty volleyball net posts:

And three old guys, each claiming their own personal space/palm tree, hanging out together, 6 feet apart, sharing conspiracy theories about Covid...

Be safe, friends,

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