“Keeping Whole in Hard Times,” March 31, 2020

Before it rained, I stepped out on the patio for a breath of fresh air and to see how many plants had been eaten overnight.

Our patio has a fence that’s four feet high. But apparently four feet isn’t enough to stop deer or rabbits or anything, really, least of all, a virus.

We do what we can. To avoid the coronavirus, we shelter in place, practice social distancing and wash our hands more often than we blink.

And the patio? Maybe next spring we’ll build a bigger fence. But on this day, all was well. No plants had been eaten. Birds sang in the trees, looking for a mate and a safe place to nest. Flowers bloomed in profusion, pink and white and purple. Mountains were cloaked in clouds promising more rain.

I wish you could’ve seen it.

I’ve always loved the feel of rain on my face. When I felt the first drops, I smiled, took a long breath and went inside. That’s when I smelled it. Bacon.

My husband and I are in a higher risk age group, not just for coronavirus, but for lots of things. So we usually try to watch what we eat.

Years ago, we stopped eating meat. No special reason, we just thought it might be “better” for us. We eat fish and seafood, but no red meat or chicken. Lately, however, for some reason, I started missing bacon.

While sheltering in place, we’ve been fortunate to get groceries delivered to our door. Imagine my surprise when the last order I placed showed up with a whole pound of bacon.

This morning, I fried four slices, two for each of us, with hash browned potatoes and eggs. I don’t know if it was good for our health. But I assure you it was good for our spirits.

We all need to take care of ourselves and each other in any ways we can. I’m thankful that, as of this moment, all of my loved ones’ needs are met. But my heart aches for so many people who are struggling to feed their families, or grieving the loss of a loved one or simply trying to stay alive.

Along with all the frightening concerns for physical health, we also need to consider emotional, mental and spiritual well being.

In hard times, it’s easy to feel like we’re falling apart. Here are things that help me feel whole.

_ Kindness: I look for stories about acts of kindness, rather than ones that cause me to fear. My favorite lately is about a landlord who lowered the rent for a family that lost half their income. There are countless such stories. We need to hear them and share them with each other. Kindness heals.

_ Beauty: I spend time in Nature — with mountains and birds and half-eaten plants on my patio — and online with people I love. I talk to family and friends and read to my grandkids on FaceTime. I even got to see a video of Jonah, my youngest grandchild, taking his first steps. Beauty calms.

_ Faith: I pray for strength in weakness, for courage in fear, for hope in hopelessness and for joy in despair. Sunday morning, at home in California, in my pajamas, I visited Cleveland Drive Presbyterian Church in Cheektowaga, N.Y. I’ve known the pastor and his wife almost 50 years. When I heard their church hosts a “sheltering in place” service on Facebook, I tuned in to worship with them and was reminded we are all in the same boat, all God’s children weathering the same storm. Faith lifts us up, quiets our fears and gives us hope and joy.

Those are gifts we can claim for ourselves and each other. And years from now, when our grandchildren tell their grandchildren about this time in our history, they’ll recall not only hardship and despair, but a glorious litany of kindness and beauty, faith and strength, courage and hope and joy.

They’ll remember the stories we shared with them and marvel at how those stories never seemed to end, but were always … just beginning.


  1. Carolyn West says

    My husband and I read your Sunday column right after we read his Sunday School lesson for that day. We always look forward to it and it never disappoints. I was going through some of my mother’s things and she had saved one of your articles, “What every married couple should remember to do” or something like that. Wonderful, wonderful article–things like remember to say “thank you” and things like that. Now I’ve put it up for safe keeping and can’t find it again, so thank you so very much for having commonsense in this day of rush rush.

  2. Frederick Armayor says

    Miss Sharon a dear friend in Alabama sent your column to me in the high desert country of New Mexico.
    It did strike my heart, mind and soul.
    Wishing you blessings

  3. OH yes, the smell & taste of bacon, I love it. Yes I am a meat eater, and when I take a bite of bacon, I do seriously feel for the little piggies that had to give up their lives for us. After all they are known to be very smart animals and probably have a spirit just as we do. But bacon tastes so darn good, that I often refer to it as, “God’s Meat.” Forgive me that little joke Lord God 🙂

  4. Barbara Ballard says

    I can so relate. I love the start of a Spring rain, although downpours are another story. Listening to my church service on the radio last Sunday, I sat with my eyes closed, picturing myself sitting in the sanctuary. Stay safe!

  5. My granddaughter has set up a Zoom conference for our family. So each Sunday evening we all meet there. Has been great. Takes about an hour and a half to get all the comments in.

  6. It brought me such joy to worship with Annie and Lowell last week too. Man, I love those two!

  7. Kate Sciacca says

    Nothing quite as beautiful as rain (or snow) clouds rolling in. It’s fun to judge the color and thickness of those clouds and do our own little “weather forecast” – yes? My dad had a theory…the smaller the raindrops, the longer the storm would hang around…. never sure if it was true, but I always hoped for smaller drops😉

    Funny though, these days I keep looking for sun – that’s a new feeling. The thought of warm sunshine flooding every bit of my body and soul as I stroll the neighborhood is quite overwhelming. Must just be the desire for this dreariness to end – the sooner the better 😀

    As for bacon…. if you run low and need more… I have five pounds in the freezer… I’ll happily run some over the hill 😀.

  8. Thanks for your wise words. Just what we needed!

  9. Richard Kellogg says

    Your comments remind us of the need to light a candle in the darkness. The “shelter in place” and “social distancing” requirements related to the viral epidemic are very dark. They separate us from each other, especially when it comes to touching and physical proximity.
    There is a strong psychological need to be near our loved ones, to shake hands, and to hug those we care most about. Let us hope and pray that the restrictions now keeping us apart will eventually result in strengthening the bonds between us. Thank you for your beautiful message about the need for faith, family, and community stewardship.

  10. Linda Taylor says

    I have a cousin who is the pastor of a church in southern Indiana, 3 hours away from me. I typically only get to hear him preach at family funerals, so it was a joy to view him on FB yesterday providing a message for his congregation since his church is following the stay at home orders. It’s the simple things that are a blessing!

  11. Janet Mann says

    Technology is a blessing in a time like we are experiencing now. We can keep in contact with our families and friends and share our lives with each other. Thank you for reminding us of the things that we can enjoy and dwell on instead of all the bad news . I’m so thankful for all the folks who are responding to help at this difficult time, putting themselves and their families in danger. Thank you to all the companies that are responding to aid in supplying the needs of the medical field and for those who are feeding the hungry and helping financially to those in need that have lost their jobs. I love your writings. They are always so uplifting. Thank you and GOD bless you and your family.

  12. Keep the faith! This is season of hope and a precious gift of time. God bless & protect you and yours!

  13. Dick Daniel says

    Bless you and yours, Sharon. Thank you for sharing.

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