Your friendly town optimist returns! Here, in spite of sheltering in place for five months, I come to you with good news: the pandemic has done some good!


I live across the street from a greenbelt. I see a lot through my casement windows. I have lived in my home for 52 years, and I have never seen what I see now.


I see whole families together. Mothers and fathers push strollers, teach small children to ride tiny bikes and scooters, They ride bikes as a whole family, all with helmets. They toss balls with their children and jog with their mates. They walk slowly, holding hands with their mates. They do not hold their cellphones. And everyone greets everyone else, the other park walkers and the neighbor residents.


Speaking of our neighbors, even those we don’t know well, they have all showed care and kindness. At least two neighbors sent letters, giving us their personal information, and telling us that if we needed anything, we should just call them. Another neighbor left us two index cards: a green one to post on the front door to indicate that all was fine, a red one to say help! Another new couple on our street gave us extra fresh kale and arugula from their brother’s garden.


Both neighbors and strangers always wave to and greet each other, even while driving. They often give me the right of way, a new experience in central Austin.


Inside our homes, there are also some benefits brought on by the pandemic. We are reading more and listening to more music. We are learning more. We are interacting on Zoom, Skype and the phone with more friends, often those far away whom we do not often see. Some of us have gotten more regimented with our exercise routines. And very importantly, we have been indulging ourselves creatively — cooking unusual food, learning to play an instrument, writing music, making pottery, painting and writing. With extra time and motivation, we feel a need to express ourselves.


I have to think that all of this is a real good resulting from this time of sequestering. It seems to me that there is a wind of kindness blowing about.


Light Bailey German is the director of writing and reading skills development at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.