When did I stop humming?  I had always hummed and sung to myself as I went about household chores until…..until what?  How can something so natural, so integral to who I am, just disappear?  I honestly can’t recall when humming/singing gradually receded or why.  But somewhere along the way I lost touch with the spontaneity which inspired that.  I do know that I began to notice this loss in the midst of the pandemic—in the slowing down of the speed of my life, in the noticeable quiet. 

So now I seek to remind myself to engage in humming.  There are certainly benefits.  Did you know athletes are trained to hum prior to and during events to minimize any negative thoughts?    Perhaps you remember little Jessica trapped in a deep well in Texas years ago, humming to herself, comforting herself and making her desperate situation more bearable. 

Making “a desperate situation more bearable” seems like a reasonable quest these days.  Music generally, can help ease chronic pain, anxiety and depression.  It contributes to relaxation and health, even improving pre-surgery stress and post-surgery outcomes and enhancing the quality of sleep.  Researchers in Finland concluded that when stroke patients listened to music for two hours a day, their verbal memory and attention improved and they had a more positive mood compared to patients who didn’t listen to music or who listened to audio books.

So I challenge you to hum in the coming week or select some music that you find uplifting.  You might pay attention to other sounds and actions that have soothing effect…..the gentle purring of your cat as you pet her; listening to the rhythmic hum of cicadas as the evening fades; noticing even the soft “swoosh” of the dishwasher as it runs.  Be creative how you respond to this challenge.  Any positive effort you make contributes to improving the emotional atmosphere and making “a desperate situation more bearable.”

 May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Cafe Bonus:

Creating Ritual

Rituals are a feature of all known human societies.  We might more often think of them in terms of religious ceremonies, rites of passage, ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, or even common behaviors such as shaking hands (pre-covid 19!).  But in psychological terminology, ritual more often refers to repetitive activity intended to bind anxiety. Think obcessive-compulsive disorder.  However, in the midst of the disruption the covid 19 virus has brought into our lives, developing rituals to give shape to our days would seem to be a reasonable response that might indeed minimize anxiety and increase focus.

            Though I did not set out to develop rituals during this time, I realize I have unwittingly done just that.  We now typically have breakfast on the screen porch followed by a walk down to the road to get the newspaper, a mile round trip.  Just this week we impulsively took a ride at sunset.  We liked it so much we went again the next night and decided we would do this nightly.  We don’t go far or for long.  But just that 30 minutes or so in the fading light of evening, passing fields of sunflowers and pastures of cattle grazing, while the sky blazes tangerine and violet, then fades into blue velvet night, is so soothing to my soul. 

            We zoom twice a week with two different groups of friends.  We plan social distance picnics about once a week.  I zoom with a Centering Prayer group once a week and meditate and pray daily.  I still find I am easily distracted and my focus is variable, a condition I certainly hope will improve as I continue to provide myself with these routines that define this fluid period in which we find ourselves.

            “I learned a few years ago that balance is the key to a happy and successful life,” Gretchen Bleiler, former professional snowboarder, has written, “and a huge part of achieving that balance is instilling rituals into your everyday life.”

            In these challenging times, we have the opportunity to develop whatever rituals we discover to support balance as we navigate our everyday lives. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

          Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Movie night (another ritual!) treat:  To popcorn, add dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries and dry roasted peanuts (or whatever nuts you prefer)…..enjoy! 😊 Creating Ritual


Hope’s Café….“where one can always find words of encouragement and a healthy snack.” These words are not original to me but are a line from a play that the children and youth at our church put on in December 2005. The words stuck with me. At the time I was completing three years of lay ministry training along with seven other church members. We decided we would designate a corner in one of the church rooms as “Hope’s Café.” One of us brought a table. One brought café type seating with checked patterned pads on the seats. A church member who was skilled at woodworking made a “Hope’s Café” sign. I put together a “menu” filled with uplifting quotes and articles and invited church members to contribute.

So today I continue in the spirit of those early efforts to give meaning to the words “Hope’s Café.” I write as we are living in these strange circumstances brought on by Covid 19. Ironically, we are both pulled apart as a nation and world as the competition builds for necessary resources and also more connected than ever by this virus. We all struggle to protect ourselves. We all feel the impact of the world economy teetering. We all face the challenge of how best to cope.

Years ago I came across the following quote: “It is not the circumstances in which we find ourselves but the spirit with which we meet them that constitutes our comfort.” There is fear, worry, grief aplenty in this time. It is important that we acknowledge them. But we don’t have to succumb to them. Even as we shelter in place, we can actively seek to bring a hopeful attitude to our circumstances. What medical developments might be discovered? What connections might people strengthen with one another? Might we learn to do with less? Might we find deeper meaning in our lives in a quieter, less busy environment? Pay attention to where your mind and spirit take you. Then redirect yourself as needed to a more hopeful space—your very own “Hope’s Café.”

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Cafe for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate

P.S. Bonus “healthy snack” tip: wash and freeze blueberries (spread in a layer)! They are quite tasty frozen 😊