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Community in the Year of the Virus

Group practising social distancingFor us, connections with others are an important part of our lives, and we’ve been made freshly aware of that because the stay-at-home regime has stopped us from meeting face-to-face with people. No more walks, meals or movies with friends. No more meetings of our writing group.

But 21st century technology provides all sorts of video alternatives, and it seems that we’ve been connecting with people more than ever, both regulars and people dispersed across miles and years.

We’ve been attending meetings via Zoom that we might not have attended. They are a mixture of people we know and people we don’t, and as geography is no longer a factor, people from all over are there.

Maude attended a spiritual gathering once a week, hosting it every other week at our house before the changes came. Now this group meets online and many of the folks who attended through the years but had moved away are participating again from Canada, Hawaii and other far-flung locations.

We belong to several writing and publishing groups that are now all meeting online. Another local writers’ group started a weekly zoom meeting in conjunction with a local arts center. In it, writers are sharing their stories and essays to entertain and inform each other, and we’ll be reading there in a couple of weeks.

These meetings have given us a different sense of community. There is an intimacy in seeing other peoples’ rooms. Pets wander around in the background or demand attention. In some ways, it’s a more personal connection than face to face over breakfast.

We have been getting feedback from our readers on how much their sense of community has changed and grown in their present experiences. There is an appreciation for others growing out of the very fact of not being able to come together, at least not physically. People seem to have become so much more aware of the importance of relationships, near and far, and of the communities we are a part of.

Many people are reaching out to people and family from earlier parts of their lives; often people they have lost contact with or haven’t spoken to in years. Many have reported looking through old photos and then reaching out to those who were once dear.

Perhaps this is a result of a heightened awareness of mortality. We have become more aware of how dependent we are on each other and how important many of the services and the people who render them are to our daily survival and quality of life.

Besides meeting face-to-face, there are lots of things missing from our lives: going to the theater; walking on the bluffs; visiting the local library. But we don’t like to look at our lives in terms of what is missing. It is far more satisfying to see them as simply being different, and there is much changed that we appreciate. Cleaner air. Quieter streets. Birdsong. Springtime. Add to that, a heightened sense of community.

Our personal experience has taught us that the most critical element for having this awareness and appreciation is to stay present with whatever is happening; not to spend time wishing things were different or how they used to be, but actually being present with how they are. In the moment of now, we can savor every connection, each meeting with old and new friends, and share our stories in a way that we can all inspire and comfort each other. We are truly becoming aware of our communities and the importance and value they have to us.

Photo credit: Maude Mayes

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Zoom Meeting, Anyone?

We are writing about community because we quoted some friends in our recent blogs, and received lots of feedback from people saying how much they identified with what was being written. One of our readers wrote, “You and Phil have created a great community around ‘relationship’ and ‘relating’. I truly enjoy the journey and listening to others’ stories and how they see it!”

It gave us a wonderful sense of how much of a community has formed through this newsletter, so we were musing about holding a Zoom meeting on the topic of relationships and community. If you think you’d like to participate, write to us at philandmaude@philandmaude.com and share your ideas.

Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfIn this week's blog, we wrote about how our connections with community have changed as a result of the stay-at-home orders. We found some interesting articles around this subject.

Helping Others Can Help You Cope with Lockdown "Our first instinct may be to hunker down and protect ourselves and our immediate families. But to get through these times with our sanity and well-being intact, we may need to push back on this initial impulse—to turn outward, not just inward. Research shows that when we put a high priority on reaching out to others, our own mental and physical health flourish."

Here Are 18 Of The Best Examples Of Social Distancing During The Lockdown "Health authorities all across the world are declaring quarantine and encouraging people to practice social distancing by minimizing contact with other people as much as possible and maintaining a distance of at least six feet between themselves... some people [who] think it’s best just to lead by example are dedicated to making the best of the quarantine period. And to our joy, they took to Twitter to share their ideas!"

Coming together amid the coronavirus crisis: how Londoners are connecting with neighbours and building micro communities during lockdown "Even though front doors are shut, residents and local businesses are finding new ways of supporting their neighbourhoods, with WhatsApp groups being set up street by street and “angel” volunteers delivering supplies. But there is another epidemic to tackle. Loneliness is a modern urban disease expected to spread during the lockdown. Jessica Kleczka, a student in Islington, is one of thousands posting leaflets through doors to make contact."


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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