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Take a moment and think back to a time you were afraid. Maybe that time is a distant memory or maybe it’s right now. Fear is one of those truly incredible emotions that can inspire such a range of actions it’s almost impossible to predict how any one individual will react. For some it creates a paralysis. Others become paranoid, seeing danger in every moment of the day.

And still for others we see them become courageous in a

I’m writing this as COVD-19 spreads across the United States. There are more cars in the parking lot to my apartment building, but fewer faces of people. More often than not I see closed blinds, or catch the glimpse of someone entering their home. What was once a busy part of the city in which I live is now quiet. There is a certain beauty in the stillness, but also a sadness I find gripping my heart.

There is a renewed spirit of fear, of anger, something that always lives below the surface, but seems to rise when we begins to feel threatened, so sense the reality of our mortality.

I’m a writer, a storyteller, and I wonder what impact I can actually have right now. The thought has permeated my thoughts for a while. Then I saw a video from one of my previous Connections, Hope Caldwell.

It’s amazing how there are so many more little windows to other people’s lives, and how often we take the for granted. But there, in a small screen, is my friend and her son, unafraid. They are brave in a way we rarely see, not the absence of fear, but the decision to move forward even when there is plenty to be scared of. In a time of fear, these two amazing people are reaching out to others to make the world a better place, to spread joy and, as fate would have it, hope.

Looking at that screen I started to see a way forward. Stories are vital to who we are, and now that we are home we see so much more put across our various feeds. With so much fear, so much anxiety, I decided to return to telling those stories that saved my life when I was done. To make a new series of Connections and, maybe, remind people of the beauty that we all have, and the need to care for one another.

Lucky for me, the first person to volunteer to connect…was Hope.

Hope and I connected in a way similar to the first time, with a walk and a talk, but this time over the phone. There’s a genuine joy in Hope’s voice, a tone born out of faith and a vision for who you want to be in a time of fear. Over the years I have learned that the greatest courage, that bravery that shines from the person who possesses it, casts its light brightest when others are afraid. Walking in the sun, with the voice of my friend in my ear, I am instantly at peace. The world doesn’t seem so alone anymore, and I immediately know this is the right path.

It’s been a while since we’ve spoken, so we catch up as friends do, sharing stories of what we’ve been up to, of the adventures we’ve been on, and how we are doing right now. We talk of fear and finding trust in a time when things are changing and the endgame is not certain. There’s a vocal quality to a smile, a warmth that travels even over the phone and we both observe that this is a time when connecting is so important.

We talk about the joy in simplicity, the enlightenment to be found when we realize there’s no possible way to be perfect. Leaping is a fear we all share, hesitating to take that step until we are absolutely positive we can, and will, fly. But edges offer very little assurance and in the end you must believe you can fly, even if you take a bump here and there, to actually do it. Since we last met, Hope and I have leapt from many edges, never with absolute certainty that we would fly, only with faith that we could.

For Hope this is a time to decide who we want to be, and to walk that path. This is who she’s always been to me, the person whose eyes not only see you and your stories for what they are, but also sees a better world. It’s not a simple vision, it’s a reality, as certain as the sun will rise, for Hope, the world is a beautiful place. We simply need to choose.

Hope is right.

We choose who we want to be in times like these; in all times really. Do we look at other people with fear, as though they are all threats and dangers to those things we want to protect? Do we forget that the people we’ve cast as nameless threatening shadows love the same way we do? Or do we decide to be brave? Not the absence of fear, but courage in the face of it, and begin reaching out to others in love and support.

I can’t tell you what decision to make. It needs to be yours.

Our call ends and I am filled with a deep sense of, well, hope. Over the next day I see another video of her and her son, making bracelets for other children, spreading joy as a family. And so I pick up my pen…and get to work.

Thank you, Hope

Social distance and the isolation that accompanies it can be hard for many, especially when you combine it with the stress of our current situation. Please, reach out and connect with people. Share your stories and your time. Use the technology available to stay close to people.

If you want to be a part of this project and share some time and stories with others, or if you just need to connect with someone, reach out to me here.

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