I’ve been very grateful lately for those who engage in what I’ve come to call the ministry of checking in. If you have someone like that in your life, you are truly blessed. These are the people who take it upon themselves to reach out to ask how those they care about are doing. They’ll make a quick call, send a text, compose an email – just to say hi and see if everything is OK. I think it’s a spiritual calling that these folks have.
There have been many heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are more apparent, such as healthcare workers, grocery store employees, truck drivers and delivery people. Still others are less recognized, but fulfill an important role. It’s in this last group that those engaged with checking in fall.
I’ve had more than one person minister to me like this. Once it was a friend on Facebook who messaged to ask how I was doing when they saw an anxious post I’d made. Another Facebook connection dropped off masks when I posted asking about where people were finding them. Someone in my building emailed at the very start of things to ask how I was doing and to let me know she was making grocery and Costco runs for others and could definitely pick something up if I needed it. My mom calls to see how my day is going.
None of these connections took very long, but they meant an awful lot in a time when isolation could get the better of me now and again. And I don’t think those doing the reaching out realized the extent of their ministry and what a blessing it was.
I’ve tried to do my own checking in, too. I call family to touch base and find out if they need anything. I’ll text friends to make sure they are OK. It actually makes me feel less alone to do it – kind of a nice side benefit. When there’s so much going on right now that I can’t do anything about, being able to support someone with just a quick text or a listening ear over the phone is comforting.
As I’ve thought about this ministry of checking in, I’ve come to realize how vital these unheralded acts can be, particularly now. With so many people struggling and separated from their usual forms of support, it’s a practice that can be a lifeline.
So, I’m grateful for all those who minister to me in this way. I think it’s important that we acknowledge what they do and recognize that it does take energy and time to be present for others. I know my head is often in a million different places lately and so knowing someone took the time to think about me is even more powerful. It’s a true gift.
If I were developing new holidays, I’d designate one to recognize those who check in. There’s a day for everything – even an International Donut Day – so there should be an International Day of Checker Inners. Though maybe I shouldn’t be in charge of naming it.
While we wait for someone with the power to make a designated day happen, I propose starting a movement to recognize the special people who check in and make sure we’re OK and have what we need. Maybe on that day we can check in on them, see how they’re doing and offer to run an errand or take care of something. Wouldn’t that be a great way to spend some time right now.
Kevin Aschenbrenner is a Victoria-based writer, poet and communications professional. He holds an M.A. in Culture and Spirituality from the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif. He blogs at www.dearpopefrancis.ca.
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