It sure feels different doing it from home.When I would walk into the Quaker meetinghouse, I felt a sense of calm, but joining for worship virtually feels less connected. The Bethesda Meeting community has found ways to adapt, but I can’t tell if it’s working. I’ve lost my sense of normalcy, which I didn’t even know existed before. Before the pandemic, I used to take little things for granted: seeing my friends every day at school, seeing someone smile, giving someone a hug.
During our virtual meetings for worship, I’ve noticed the number of people who log on is much less than in-person. I think about the struggles others might be going through that we don’t even know about, especially the older members. The reason they haven’t been able to join could be as simple as they don’t know how, but this lack of connection can really decrease their joy. I carried this troubling thought for days, then came to the realization that I could be the person to cheer up those who were feeling so disconnected. I didn’t have time to waste; this issue was just getting worse.
The Shine Bright Committee is just what was needed. My brother and I started it together, and our purpose was to give joy to others, especially members who were isolated and feeling disconnected. We would start small, then grow into something bigger. When we began in April 2020, we painted and sent colorful cards to people with the message that we were thinking of them and that there were brighter days ahead. The response was incredible. People reached out to let us know that receiving the card really brightened their day. Some even told us that they put the card on their refrigerator or fireplace mantle where they can see it every day. Receiving these thankful messages made me realize how much this positivity was needed.
We started looking for other ways to help people stay connected. We noticed that some meeting members continued to struggle with the virtual worship format. I decided to reach out to a few people to offer help. My brother and I had one-on-one meetings to teach about this new technology and answer any questions. We could see how much this assistance was appreciated: more people were joining the virtual meetings! This experience was extremely meaningful. Reaching out and providing help gave me joy while also giving back to the community.
We decided to end the long year with one more project by the Shine Bright Committee. We made and sent uplifting Happy New Year’s cards to more than 30 members of our meeting. Some we sent with handmade bracelets enclosed. Making the cards gave me a sense of joy that I hadn’t felt before, and seeing the impact that these small gifts had on people was one of the best parts.
The feeling of being isolated during this time can be very overwhelming, no matter what your age is. Creating the Shine Bright Committee helped me feel more connected to others within our meeting. I consider it a silver lining of the pandemic that I have gained many friendships from this outreach. I’ve learned what a huge impact one small act of kindness can have on another person. Making a difference matters.