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A quarantine concert

Just as I was trying to wrap up some work for the day, I heard guitar music outside. I messaged my colleagues to wish them a happy weekend, closed my laptop, and headed to the front yard.One of our neighbors—a friend from our church who’s also a music teacher—was singing and playing his guitar from his porch, performing for all of us. You could hear him clearly up and down the street.

Neighbors were bringing lawn chairs out to their yards to enjoy the late-afternoon breeze and a little live music. I sat down on our front steps to take it all in—the upbeat songs, the friendly waves of passing neighbors, the scent of our magnolia tree that has just started to bloom.

It was too good to miss. I went inside to find our boys who were playing together.

“You have to come outside,” I said. “One day you’ll be telling your children or your grandchildren what it was like to be quarantined for…well…however long, and they’ll say, ‘What was it like?’ And you’ll say, ‘Our mom let us play so many video games, and we had the best time, and one night this man down the street played his guitar for everyone, and we went out to listen.’”

“But we won’t tell the story that way,” my son said happily, “because we want to finish our game.”

It wasn’t a battle worth fighting. And I didn’t mind having a little time to myself. I went back out, made myself comfortable on the steps, and soaked it all in—the neighbors airing their dogs and children, the shadows deepening on the grass, and the music.

“There will be an answer, let it be…” sang our neighbor. “When the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me…”

Let it be. It was the right song for the moment. It was the right song for me.

Letting things be might be the hardest thing about this crisis. Recognizing that things are outside my control is never easy. But it’s especially hard to know that the greatest and most selfless gift I can give to others is to do nothing. It’s to stay home. It’s hard not to be able to do, to act, to go. But, for once, our service is stillness. And we have no idea for how long. We just know we can have the biggest positive impact by closing ourselves off physically and staying put.

Our musical neighbor, though, was sharing his talents from a safe distance, shaping an early spring evening with his performance. At the end of every song, the neighbors and I cheered. We were in this together, but we were separate.

I couldn’t help thinking that we probably wouldn’t be enjoying this beautiful concert if not for the quarantine. There’s such anxiety to this time. But there are also moments of great joy. We are making memories as a family that I know I will treasure for years to come.

And one memory I will cherish will be slipping outside at the end of a busy day, feeling frayed and emotionally spent after a week of working from home, to listen to our neighbor sing for our little community.

“All you need is love,” he sang as he wrapped up the concert.

Love. It’s all we need. And it’s something we can do without leaving home.