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May 12, 2020

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The Magallanes, West, and Kramer children team up to film a home movie in Northern Virginia. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Locked down together in Alexandria, Virginia, three neighboring families share meals, play, school, and their quarantined lives. - via The Washington Post
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." - 1 Peter 4:8-10
When schools closed in Virginia, three families decided to share their quarantine. They follow the same basic safety guidelines, all frequently washing hands and wearing masks in public. Parents take turns grocery-shopping and cooking, share home-schooling responsibilities, and child care, and they share all meals.  One of the moms, a reading specialist, teaches the little kids. One of the dads, a statistician, teaches the older ones. The five kids bounce between houses, jumping on a trampoline at one house, building a fort in the basement of another, building with LEGO at the third. They all feel that their arrangement has kept them saner and happier. 

I loved this story. We know that community is important, and in a crisis, it’s essential. One of the hardest things about the pandemic is how isolated we feel. I miss my people, and though Zoom and Facetime have helped enormously, there is something irreplaceable about being together. As I read this story and reflected on the gifts of community, I’m drawn to redouble my efforts to connect. 

A few years ago, when one of my cousins got sick, she invited her siblings and closest cousins to join her in “The Grace Project,” a way to face her cancer collectively. For the duration of her treatment, until she received a clean bill of health, eight of us took turns staying with her. We dubbed ourselves “Project Managers” and stayed in touch with a nightly Project Report. The special bond we formed gave us all strength for the journey. 
The Grace Project manifested what is described in 1 Peter and is at the heart of community, that we love each other deeply. Though social distancing complicates how we relate, it doesn’t complicate how we love. While we can’t all quarantine with other families, we can still find innovative ways to connect.
Find a new way today to show and share your love. Make a meal for a friend or drop off cookies. Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to since this began.
Blessing For Suffering by John O’Donohue

May you be blessed in the holy names of those
Who, without you knowing it,
Help to carry and lighten your pain.

May you know serenity
When you are called
To enter the house of suffering.

May a window of light always surprise you.

May you be granted the wisdom
To avoid false resistance;
When suffering knocks on the door of your life,
May you glimpse its eventual gifts.

May you be able to receive the fruits of suffering.

May memory bless and protect you
With the hard earned light of past travail;
To remind you that you have survived before
And though the darkness is now deep,
You will soon see the approaching light.

May the grace of time heal your wounds.

May you know that though the storm may rage,
Not a hair of your head will be harmed.
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