Category Archives: Resilience

Open My Window, Birds Still Sing

“Comfort, comfort, ye my people,” says our God.
Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40

When Sarah Jarosz sang “open my window, birds still sing” from her new song on NPR’s Morning Edition last week, I felt like a mother eagle had flown into my COVID-19 heart and carried me on her wings. “Up In The Clouds” is a poignant, joyful, reminder of hope in the COVID-19 era. (Hear Grammy-nominated Jarosz’s “Up In the Clouds” and her interview with David Greene here.) As we stare into the next surge of Coronavirus, let us notice our resilience and celebrate the birds that still sing.

Month after month, we kept going. We cleaned pantries and garages when the pandemic began, baked bread, put Teddy Bears in windows, planted gardens, and drew with chalk on sidewalks.

In the beginning, we stitched thousands of masks at our kitchen tables and gave them away for free. We thanked essential workers for risking their health on our behalf. We eagerly awaited summer so we could be outside the confines of our home.

We closed our businesses. Cared for our sick. Buried our dead. Learned how to worship, meet, and chat on Zoom. We have been resilient.

And yet, the Coronavirus is not finished with us yet. More isolation and sorrow await us this winter.

Like the Psalmist, we plead for a word of hope, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”

“Open your window,” says the Eternal One. “Birds still sing.”

All is not lost. There is still love. And goodness. And God who, like a mother eagle, catches us when we fall.

Squirrels still bury nuts in my garden, and my chickens still lay eggs. Eyes smile above face masks. Snow sparkles today on mountain peaks. Vaccines will come in the new year.

Birds still sing. Beauty is still being created, music sung, and laughter heard. Wrongs are still being righted, broken relationships mended, people comforted, hungry folk fed. A world is still being born.

This pandemic will mark us for the rest of our life. Some of us will bounce back quickly. Others will take a long time to fly again. Some will be gone.

Those who make it through will say when facing a new challenge, “If I made it through the Great Pandemic, I can handle this ____.” We will celebrate how strong we are and how resilient we have become.

Every morning it’s the same. Coffee and memories fill my cup.
And I’ve been thinking that I should learn how to do something new with my time – dig my hands in the dirt, build something that works, get all my loose ends tied.
Open my window, birds still sing.
I want to learn all of their songs, sometime this century till the water washes us away.

From “Up In The Clouds” by Sarah Jarosz

A Message From My Mother

One of the joys of sorting my mother’s papers after her death last year was reading through the prayers, articles, and sermons she had saved. They were a window into Mother’s faith and a gift that my sister and I carry forward. I rediscovered one of those papers last week and reread it each day in these anxious, depressing times. Here it is, with my hope that you find it helpful, too.

It’s a new day, Lord, and I’m glad it’s here. For the restful moments of the night now ended, I am grateful. For the sleepless moments when I tossed and turned, I am grateful, too: It’s good to have issues that need to be addressed, challenges that demand attention, and a desire to deal with them.

It’s a new day, Lord, and I’m glad it’s here. Yesterday wasn’t exactly what I expected, but today might be different. Who knows what tasks might be accomplished, what new directions might be traveled, what hurts might be healed, what kindness might be offered, what love might be shared.

It’s a new day, Lord, and I’m glad it’s here. Each day is an adventure, a new beginning. Sure, there will probably be some detours I didn’t expect, some turns I didn’t anticipate, some potholes I wont appreciate; but that’s part of living. Not doubt, there will be moments of smooth sailing, too; that which turns out much better than expected, a few pleasant surprises, times of laughter and joy.

It’s a new day, Lord, and I’m glad it’s here. This is the day you have made. The Psalmist declared that long ago, and it’s still the truth. Let me rejoice and be glad in it. Your love is a source of strength and a fountain of hope. You provide what I need. What more could I ask?

It’s a new day, Lord, and I’m glad it’s here. Help me make the most of it, whatever it may bring my way.

By The Reverend Eric P. Wogen

Lord, hear my prayer.

The Resilience of Hope

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, I put a table with colored chalk and hand sanitizer near my front sidewalk with a sign reading, “Please draw a picture or message of hope. Please use sanitizer before and after. Stay safe. Stay well.”

Almost instantly, people began drawing and writing. When rain washed away the chalk, they drew new pictures. Week by week the pattern continues: hope drawn, hope gone, hope drawn. The resilience of hope visible on my sidewalk.

When I first set out the chalk, I had no idea what would happen. Would we become the crazy people with chalk in front of their house? Would anyone draw? Would it matter? Like priming the pump at a fundraiser, I drew a smiley face to get things started, then took my dogs for a walk.

By the time I returned, there were pictures on the sidewalk. Within days, there were rainbows, flowers, stars, a car and a unicorn. There have been trucks, cats, dogs, houses, families, and smiley faces–even one wearing a mask. Today there are fireworks, pets, mountains, and flowers on my sidewalk.

I was moved by what people drew that first week. I was awed. I still am.

Some people draw, others write messages: Believe hope will come. We will get through this. Love, Peace, Hope. Be Kind. Wash your hands. Thanks for letting us draw. Together.

My sidewalk makes people smile in an otherwise grim time.

People have been leaving messages and drawing pictures ever since. Some people pause to look at the drawings and smile as they continue walking. Parents have said my sidewalk is their child’s favorite part of their daily walk. Teens have shown me which pictures they drew and messages they wrote. Adults have thanked me for giving them a place to share. The sidewalk project has helped build a sense of community that counters our isolation. When I need a lift, I walk out to my sidewalk and feel hopeful that we will make it through.

As the weeks pass and the world around us changes, so, too, have the messages changed. They began with “Stay safe; Wash your hands; Love, Joy, Hope; Hope will come.” After the killing of George Floyd, they’ve included “Black Lives Matter,” and “This Sidewalk Is a Blessing.” June arrived and “Happy Pride Month” appeared. This weekend, someone wrote “Just Mask Up or Stay Home” in beautiful colors. Always, there are messages of “Be kind; It will be OK; We’ll get through this.”

Today the sidewalk art includes green mountains beneath a blue sky and yellow sun, “Black Lives Matter, Just Mask Up or Stay Home,” a house, fireworks, a dog saying “Woof,” and flowers. When my own green shoots of hope wilt in the face of the day’s news, I stand at my sidewalk and feel hopeful.

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love,” says Mother Teresa. I can’t do great things to change the world, but I can do small things with love. One of those small things is to set out chalk and sanitizer and create a canvas for people to share dreams, resilience, and hope with others.

Even when it’s washed away, hope is resilient. Breathe it in: We will make it through.