Holding on to Hope

IMG_5998Spring sparks hunger for green and growing. Through the storm sewer grates along the side of the street, spring melt burbles and gurgles. Today’s sodden skies and drizzle felt soft as spring, though winter returns tomorrow. Walking around the neighborhood, I look for the first green spears rising from still-frozen ground.

On this spring equinox, I planted flowers in egg cartons and set them beneath a grow light: sulfur cosmos, zinnias, bee balm, Mexican sunflowers, giant marigolds, and brown-eyed Susans, seeds hopefully harvested from my own or someone else’s garden last fall.


Now comes the waiting time. Perhaps in two months’ time, I will have seedlings to plant in my garden.  If not, the ground may be warm and I will plant more seeds.

Perhaps in two months’ time, the pandemic will pass. If not, we will carry on. Like the new green appearing in my neighbors’ yards, signs of hope and solidarity already appear. I can’t ignore the awfulness around us, but I choose to see these signs, choose hope over despair.

A few days ago, a friend posted this story:

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 10.55.40 AM

A Duluth distillery is making sanitizer and giving it away:

“Vikre says the effort is costing more than the company had anticipated. Because of the unexpected demand, he said, it will likely run in the thousands of dollars.

“‘But it’s worth it to us,’ Vikre said. ‘This is the community that supports us, and this is something we can do to respond to the need right now.’

“Vikre Distillery is giving away the disinfectant for free — and they’re giving any donations that come in to the 18 employees they had to furlough when they were forced to close the cocktail room.”

In the nonprofit world, two foundations found ways to support their grantees:

“Robert Sterling Clark Foundation is providing an extra year of funding to grantees. They wrote: “Add one additional year to every grant. We hope that this will ease some funding concerns and allow you to focus on serving your communities, not on us. The ‘Plus One’ pushes grant terms out so you don’t have to do anything in 2020. For multi-year grants that were completed in 2019, we will extend them to include this year. For current grants, we will add one year to the existing agreements.”

“The Eisner Foundation wrote: “If you are a current grantee, we are happy to convert any restricted funds to general operating support. In addition, we are suspending all reporting requirements until further notice. We know you have more important things to do right now than file a report with us, and we know that we can trust you to utilize our funds as most needed.”

On NextDoor, every day brings new offers of rides, grocery pick-ups, help of some kind. And in downtown St. Paul, this:

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 9.37.12 PM

Today in a virtual meeting, a co-worker talked about focusing on gratitude: that she has a home to live in, food to eat, a job.

In her March 18 Letters From an American, Heather Cox Richardson wrote:

“[T]oday feels different because something else is kicking in. In the absence of federal leadership, Americans are reaching out to each other, finding ways to help each other and to socialize “distantly.” I have seen young people offering to shop for older people; business owners delivering to shut-ins; teachers tying themselves in knots to continue to deliver quality education; workers trying to learn new skills to enable them to continue to do their jobs; one of our finest writers, Rebecca Solnit, reading fairy tales to children on-line; friends having beers together on Skype; and remarkable good humor among those of us who are isolated, along with concern for all those whose health and jobs are at risk. And that’s not even touching the service workers and health care professionals who are putting their lives on the line for the rest of us every day….

“After more than a generation of a culture that idealized individualism and said selfish greed was good, the coronavirus is forcing us to evaluate whether that is what we want to be as a government, and as a nation.

“As reader Joe McDermott summed it up today: ‘How we deal with it will define us forever.’”


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