A few nights ago, on a beautiful evening in Colorado, we opened our windows to a refreshing breeze of mountain air. We listened to the stillness, interrupted by the distinct sounds of howling. We stepped outside. It is not entirely unusual for coyotes to howl in the open spaces of the Front Range that sweep up to the foothills and the towering snow-capped mountains. But these howls were coming from the wrong direction. They were echoing from the streets of our neighborhood.
What we were hearing was a phenomenon sweeping across our nation. People are emerging from their “stay at home” shelters at 8 p.m. in the evening and howling! For some, it is perhaps a protest, a way to “let off steam” from being cooped up and shut-in. But for most, it is a way of connecting with strangers and shouting support for those who continue on the “front lines” of the coronavirus crisis.
The next day this message appeared in our neighborhood blog: “I work in the Emergency Department for UC Health. … Some days you feel like you have made a difference and other days are, like last night when I came home exhausted and praying that individuals we put on ventilators that day would still be alive. When wearing protective gear for 12-15 hours, it is uncomfortably hot, and it is a challenge to remember to drink enough water because of being masked up all day. At the end of our shifts, we shower and put on fresh clean clothes carefully bagging up our uniforms from that day, which will be laundered as soon as we walk in the door of our homes - all before driving home to our loved ones hoping we have done enough to protect our families from our day’s work.
Last night as I parked in our garage, I heard a riot of howls from around our neighborhood … I want each of you howlers to know that your support helped lift the tired heart and soul of someone who some days wonders if what I did was enough. Last night, it brought a tear to my eyes and a big lump in my throat. It is a pleasure to be your neighbor, and an honor to help support our community.”
This morning I spoke to my neighbor across the street as he left for his job as a firefighter. I wished him well and told him I would be praying for him. The day before, we pulled into a space at our local grocery, popped our trunk and waited while one of the workers cheerfully loaded our car with our order for the week. We gave her a small tip and thanked her. She had been working since midnight, stocking the store and filling orders.
We may not be able to do much in the current crisis. But the one thing we all can do is encourage each other, whether by personal greetings, well-wishes and prayers, or by howling in the street at 8 p.m.
More than ever we need to heed the instruction of Scripture: “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11). “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. Visit www.tinsleycenter.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.