We all have seen or experienced the ripple effect. In the simplest example, think of a stone dropped into a pond, how it spreads concentric circles of waves of decreasing intensity as they move out from the center. It works inversely also, as sometimes a small action (or inaction) can create a big ripple. I’m thinking about Rosa Parks here. But this morning I am thinking about a big event that has created many ripples in all of our lives.
The coronavirus is the enormous boulder that dropped in our pond earlier this year. The virus alone has been catastrophic, but consider the ripples that have followed: the lockdown, businesses closed, jobs lost, bills that go unpaid, and we could go on and on about the ripples. It is a very small micro-ripple that has tugged at my heart since yesterday. My 10-year old granddaughter, Olivia asked her mother when they would get to shop for back to school clothes. My daughter told her they were waiting until they knew for certain that school would actually have in person classes. The district has a plan to reopen, but things are very fluid in every district right now. Then Olivia asked if they could at least go shop for a new backpack. My daughter had to explain that there would be no backpacks allowed at school this year. That made me so sad for little Olivia. One of the biggest days in the Kid Year is the first day of school with a new outfit, new backpack, and new school supplies. And the obligatory snapshot on the front porch.
This has been one ripple too many for me, and yet I know more will come. There are the things we don’t think about. This same daughter needs a new washing machine because her old one broke down. Did you know that you can’t go into a store and buy a washer right now? There are none. It’s a supply chain issue. When factories shut down, supply stops. My teen grands will not have lockers this year, or be allowed to carry a purse. Our college grands have been instructed to come with emergency COVID bags packed. If a fever is detected they will be immediately whisked away to some undetermined location (infirmary? gulag?), and will need to have a bag packed and ready to go. Our college freshman will be allowed only one parent to help her move into the dorm. And sorority rush will be mostly virtual. Our pregnant granddaughter can only have her husband at the hospital with her. We will have to wait until she comes home to meet the new baby.
These are minor inconveniences, but they are cumulative. When they are piled atop the larger ripples mentioned above, life becomes even more stressful, wearing. Many of us are walking around with sub-clinical depression (or maybe full blown) because of all the ripples.
Psychologists have studied the ripple affect as it pertains to emotions. That is, how the emotions of one person in a group can trigger the emotions of the entire group, like a row of falling dominos. It even has a name: emotional contagion. You have probably noticed it, maybe how one person’s anxiety in an office can set off everyone else, or one family member in a bad mood can set the tone for the entire household.
But it can work the opposite way also, with a kind word, an act of consideration, or an expression of love. I would like to be a carrier of hope during these trying days. I would like to be, but some days are hard for me too. That is when I need to go to the source of hope, God’s Word. Honestly, I can barely make it through the day without my morning dose of hope. Hebrews 6 tells us that when we turn to God and take hold of the hope he offers, that hope acts as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” That same passage tells us that God cannot lie, that His words are truth. I can spread hope with confidence because I am sharing the truth, and truth is a hard commodity to find in 2020. I can be an encourager, one who inspires hope and courage. I need to be mindful of my words because I want to create positive ripples, contagions of hope.
Lord, help me to be a carrier of your hope today.