By Kim Fernandez

After a socially distanced, back porch, complaining-about-all-things-Coronavirus, decidedly unhappy hour a couple of months back, two friends and I decided we needed more happy—a lot more happy. So we came up with the COVID blessing, which is something we’re grateful for that wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic. Sounds like the world’s biggest oxymoron but since we started consciously looking, we’ve discovered a lot of them.

So far, my favorite COVID blessing is a much-heightened sense of grace (at least in real life–social media is its own universe). We understand when a dog barks or a kid melts down or someone’s sporting untamed bedhead during a Zoom call. We get it when a colleague goes incommunicado for an hour or two during a child’s distance learning time. We wait patiently when a presenter’s connection blips or they need a moment to collect their thoughts; it’s hard to think sometimes. We offer support when our friend has a little meltdown on Facebook, and we pretend to not notice when they delete it the next morning. And we’re a bit more compassionate when the Door Dash driver is late and our order is wrong—and we tip anyway—because everybody’s stretching in all sorts of ways to hold everything together six months in.

We have a greater appreciation for TP and paper towels, a rekindled love for flour and yeast, and a never-leave-me sort of affection for the mail carrier and UPS driver. A whole shelf of canned pumpkin at the grocery store left me awash in gratitude last week and my neighbor sent me a heartfelt thank-you when I left a $3 canister of Clorox wipes on her porch. There’s still a lot of “please” in our prayers, but more and more, there’s “thank you.” And there is more patience and compassion and grace.

My friends and I share our COVID blessings with each other through regular texts and still-distanced get togethers on the back porch, and celebrating them together has been its own blessing. When this all ends, I hope that part sticks around.

Kim Fernandez is IPMI’s director of publications.