A Generational Wisdom In The Time of COVID19
I spoke to my 90-year-old grandmother this week. I call her Munner.
When I was first learning to talk, my grandmother was so hopeful that I would call her “Grandmother.” I was able to get out, “M-m-m-u-n-n-n-e-r”, and Munner stuck. My friends call her Munner. You can call her Munner, too.
Like many of you, I reached out to my Munner this week to check-in, make sure she was ok, see if she needed anything. Munner assured me she was just fine. At 90 years old, my Munner still gardens. Up until the last 2 years, she was still mowing her own lawn. Dad finally told her she had to stop.
In my phone call with Munner, she told me about the time in our nation’s history when we were socially isolating to protect against Polio. “I remember when I would come out of my house and sit on the corner of my yard, and my friends would come out of their houses and sit on the corners of their yards, and we would talk to each other across the street,” she said.
This got me thinking. Every generation has had some “major thing” to live through, and our older generations have lived through plenty. My Munner was born during the Great Depression, was 15 when World War II ended, lived through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf War, 13 U.S. recessions (did you know there were more than 2 recessions since the Great Depression?), 9/11, the peak of Polio, a second Measles outbreak, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
And what is my Munner doing during this particular season we are living in? She’s gardening. She’s waving at the children playing in the yard across the street from her. She’s sitting on her front porch petting the neighbor’s cat who visits daily. She’s got enough groceries for the next week, but she told me she could do without the “extra special items” if she needed to, which likely meant a piece or two of dark chocolate she treats herself with every once in a while.
Over the last week, I’ve wondered about my approach to this pandemic, to my community, toward my family. How can I love well, stay isolated, live with grace and in peace, with and for those around me?
Another wise soul, who lived through much himself, C.S. Lewis shared words of wisdom about the crisis in his lifetime, the atomic bomb:
“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”
So perhaps in my approach, I consider both the wisdom of Lewis and my Munner. I do the “human things”. I wave and shout greetings to my neighbors across the street. I call my friend who works in the restaurant industry to ask if she needs anything because I know she’s been sent home. I pet the cat who visits my yard, and I tend my garden which my elderly neighbor loves and tells my husband how pretty it all is. I walk, listen to the birds, cook dinner, FaceTime nieces, call family...I sow hope in the simple human things.
On a larger scale, our neighborhood created a Shamrock Hunt for the little ones. Each neighbor taped a shamrock in a window of their house. Kids went on walks with their parents and tried to find all the shamrocks. It was wonderful! A whole neighborhood, full of people connecting while remaining wise about health and boundaries. It was brilliant!
What simple “human things” can you do? Encouraging calls, texts, emails? Walks with the loved ones in your home? Delivering groceries to elderly neighbors’ porches? It doesn’t have to be hard. Be creative! Invite others to join you through virtual channels, or maybe an early Easter Egg Hunt using the same ideas as the Shamrock Hunt our neighbors created?
On Point will provide Virtual Life On Point Groups this week. We will have our team online to share social-emotional support for our middle and high school youth. We will be posting videos, talking about emotions and stress, offering a safe space during this time. We are here to offer the simplicity of human presence to you!
In the days ahead: May you find a renewed joy in the simple human things. May your mind not be dominated by fear, but rather freed to see the Life all around you. May you sow hope into the people in your life right now, just like my Munner has done for me.
Written by Tracy Cunningham, On Point Director of Operations