It’s been more than 12 months since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Delaware. More than half a million Americans have died from this terrible virus. Millions more are suffering in other ways. Almost everyone has been affected negatively from COVID-19. This is the greatest and most devastating disaster we have ever experienced.
We have stopped shaking hands. Many of us use our arms to open doors. We continue to protect ourselves by social distancing from others. The world has never felt so unsafe. Half a million families have suffered the painful loss of a loved one, some saying goodbye through virtual means. Millions of people will be living with potential lifelong physical and mental effects from this. Kids and adults alike have been traumatized and lives will never be the same.
How are we expected to move on from here?
I think the answer is the same after any tragedy – with courage, faith, and hope. And it is those three things that have carried us this far.
Friendship House has continually modeled these three attributes: courage, faith, and hope. Our employees found the courage to show up every day at work to continue our life-saving and life-changing programs. Our employees showed faith when they had to work from home knowing they were doing what was best for the company, keeping themselves safe while serving our community. And we all kept hope in a better tomorrow.
We saw these three attributes in those we serve. Most recently we saw courage in the 73 people who agreed to move into the NCC Hope Center when we announced we could not offer Code Purple. These 73 individuals all lived on the streets in Wilmington, Newark or Middletown. Although frequently uncomfortable, denied respect, and wanting of so many things – they had created a system for themselves while living houseless. During the pandemic, it was made all that more difficult. When we asked them to move to the Hope Center, somewhere new and out of their comfort zone, they had the courage to say yes.
There was faith in those that came to our Empowerment Centers every day for coffee and food. They never stopped coming to us, even when we moved how, when or where we offered these services. They had faith we would be there for them. And because of their faith, we showed up every day, too.
We witnessed hope, alongside fear and anxiety, in every resident of our Transitional Housing program. They hold close to their heart this is the moment they will find a path forward. It is critical in that moment of vulnerableness we see in them the best version of themselves, and reflect that vision back.
There is so much hope on the horizon – hope enough people will be vaccinated we can start being together like we once were. Hope the vaccinations will be enough against the variants. Hope the economy will rebound. Hope we are doing enough.
In order to believe in that hope, we must have faith. Faith the scientists created strong vaccinations. Faith our community will get the vaccinations safely. Faith our financial decisions are the right ones for our economy. Faith it will be OK as long as we stay true to ourselves.
And then we must have courage. Courage to do the hard thing – courage to do the right thing. Courage to face the world – with or without a mask – and say “I am here and I am ready, Lord, to show up and be your partner in making it OK.”
This time of year is a time of transformation; a time for death to become life. Whether you believe in Easter or just the beauty of Spring, renewal and rebirth are all around us. It couldn’t be at a better time as we turn the corner to the end of this pandemic. We must remember the rainbow is always there after a storm, whether we can see it or not.
Together, as one loving and supportive community, I believe we can dig deep and find enough courage, faith and hope to live fully and intentionally in spite of this pandemic. I pray we all feel the peace and love of God as we journey to find our way home.