Last Thursday, my great-grandma turned 96. Months before, we’d planned a birthday bash for her with her three children attending from three states, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Then the coronavirus crept into our region, creating a trickle of closures and cancellations. We altered our plans with the changing recommendations from the CDC.
Plan A: Hold the party in the dining room at her assisted living facility with all of us present.
Plan B: Pick up Nana and transport her to my parents’ house for the party.
Then we learned the entire assisted living facility would be locked down, with no visitors in and no residents out. Time to think creatively.
How could we express our love to her when we couldn’t GET to her?
Plan C: Call the facility and ask if they would wheel Nana to the lobby window at 10:30.
They agreed, and ten of us huddled on the patio, kids darting in and out of the rain, singing Happy Birthday at the top of our voices, tears welling in our eyes as Nana beamed on the other side of the glass.
Was it ideal?
Of course not. It was heart-wrenching! I wanted to hug her and kiss her soft cheek and hear her gentle voice say, “I love you, Honey. Come again.”
I wanted her great-grandchildren to hang all over her and make her smile in the way only they can.
It was far from ideal. But it was possible. It was the best we could do under restriction.
Love through a window.
I know we’re not alone in this.
As the coronavirus swept Italy and citizens were locked down in their homes, many stood on their balconies waving and singing to one another.
Here in the Midwest, a group of Wisconsin residents founded the Happy Heart Hunt Facebook group “to spread love and kindness during these unprecedented times” by decorating the exterior of their homes, their cars, and other places in public view with homemade paper hearts, encouraging people to post photos of the hearts on the page.
As our physical contact with the outside world lessens, we find other ways to love and encourage one another.
This can look like a dozen eggs left on a neighbor’s doorstep.
A grocery drop for the mom at home with her babies.
A card in the mail for the friend you won’t see on his birthday.
It can look like joining in on virtual services on Sunday mornings to remain connected with church families, or hosting a 5:30 a.m. Zoom coffee date with two dear friends to laugh at one another’s bedhead and say, “How are you REALLY doing with all of this?”
It would be easy for some of us to drown in the scary thought that we are alone right now, but we don’t have to be alone at all.
We just have to look for windows.
One of my friends is having a baby this morning. I awoke restless at 4:45 and decided to drive to my empty church to sit in the women’s ministry room for some writing and prayer time. As I approached our county hospital on Highway 2, God nudged me to turn in.
I knew I was there to pray. I drove around the perimeter of the hospital, asking God to bring comfort, healing and protection to those inside. I slowed as I approached the OB unit, then came to a complete stop. I prayed for my friend, about to birth a new life on the other side of one of those windows. She didn’t know I was there, of course, but I knew the only thing separating her from my love and support was a pane of glass. A window.
Friends, love passes through windows.
It passes through phone lines. It passes through text messages and emails and virtual meetings and prayers. It attaches to construction paper birthday cards and eggs on a neighbor’s doorstep. For heaven’s sake, it attaches to toilet paper.
Let’s not be limited by a temporary “shelter-in-place” order meant to keep us safe.
Let’s not be hindered by a little more space between us when there are invisible conduits running from my heart to yours and from yours to your neighbor’s, and on and on across time and space.
Let’s not be isolated when the wide world is our window and the people we cherish are just on the other side, smiling and waving with their whole hearts.
There are many things we can’t do in this moment in time, but love through a window? We can do that.
We can do this.
How will you love, today?
And above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.~Colossians 3:14 (Holy Bible, ESV)
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