Every night at 7 pm, New York City erupts into two full minutes of cheering, bell ringing, pot-banging clamor in support of all who are working on the front lines: health care professionals, delivery people, grocery store employees. It makes me teary just writing about it. Briefly, we are connected to our neighbors in a heartfelt expression of gratitude for those who are working to keep us healthy and safe.
Some of us, maybe most of us, are busy and tired right now, balancing work, our children’s remote learning, and household chores in ways we didn’t even imagine two months ago. Let me be clear: you do not need to do more. Really, truly, you don’t. I promise. You are, in fact, already doing good at home. You can stop reading right now. If, however, you find some time and energy, there are ways you and your kids can make a difference in the lives of others from your kitchen table.
Doing Good Together is a national non-profit founded in 2004 “on the belief that when parents engage with their children in community service, they pass along [to them] the spirit of giving and goodness, strengthen their families, and create a new generation of volunteers, philanthropists, and kind, caring adults.” As a response to the Coronavirus pandemic, they have all kinds of ideas and activities for families to reach out to others and to volunteer from a distance, to share from our abundance, and to advocate for justice.
We can only do so much. But as long as you’re still reading, science and experience show that helping others helps us. Strengthening bonds with family, friends and neighbors, renewing our sense of purpose, and looking to that which is bigger than ourselves actually can reduce anxiety and stress. It’s also how we join with God in helping bring about the realm of God, with one small act of kindness at a time.
Please read Catherine Newman’s exquisite post about the transformative power of these small acts. It’s the most true thing I’ve read in a long while.
Wendy Claire Barrie is the author of Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents. One of the chapters relevant to this topic explores the importance of Meeting God in Others.