by Vicky Otto, Companions Director
Throughout a typical day, each of us makes choices about a whole myriad of situations. As we continue to live during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still faced with the same circumstances, yet the choices have become more complex. For many, the choice of staying connected with others is one of the most significant challenges that we face today. A small child reminded me that when we stay open to seeing new opportunities rather than obstacles, we can be people of hope.
During the pandemic, after working during the day, I try to get out every afternoon for a long walk – maintaining appropriate social distancing, of course! I live in a large apartment complex in Kansas City, and because everyone has been home there have been children everywhere. I met a young child about four or five during my walk that was upset because of a conflict with his siblings. We struck up a quick conversation when I admired the ball he had. As I continued my walk, he said quite loudly, “I want to give you a hug.” His mother and I both gasped audibly. I gave him a quick lesson about how we can blow kisses in the air instead. He seemed pleased with the alternative and ever since then, when I have met him in the complex, he goes out of his way to blow kisses.
My daily encounters with my new young friend are a good reminder of two lessons that I have learned during this pandemic. First, it is all how we accept things. My friend didn’t stop when he heard “No,” he remained open to listening and trying something new. He reminded me that even as we follow all the guidelines of the pandemic to stay safe, we can still build a connection with others. The second lesson he taught was that despite our circumstances, we need to choose to be people of love and people of hope. My young friend was a person of love. I pray that as he grows older that he will continue to grow in him. He reminds me and each of us that we choose how to live in this world. We are living in uncertain and often terrifying times. It is easy to fall prey and react with all the negative emotions that this pandemic brings up in each of us. My new friend has taught me that there are different opportunities available.
We may never get back to life “pre-pandemic.” In many ways I hope we don’t. Living in the pandemic has taught me that I choose to see that this is a time of grace where we get to pray more, slow down, and in the slowing down appreciate the small things that we might have missed. I would have never imagined I would have enjoyed blowing kisses so much. Choosing to live in a time of grace means that we also must chose to be people of love. As we are sent forth on our missionary ways this week, I invite us to enjoy “blowing kisses.”