One brief, shining moment
Camelot made an appearance in Ledge-Lowe (Estateswe usually just say Ledge-Lowe; “Estates” is too embarrassing) last Wednesday evening, April 15th.
It all began, I suppose, with the gracious charm and loving demeanor of Carianne Schmidt, a neighbor here who radiates goodness.
It continued with a spark of inspiration in the soul of Leslie Williams, the free-spirited, jolly president of our HOA. To know her is to love her. Together with Carianne’s husband, Jordan, Leslie devised a surprise.
Carianne is a nurse in ICU at Berkeley Medical Center. She had been working mostly twelve hour shifts, dodging COVID-19, while juggling home schooling for her three little boys together with Jordan. He, by the way, is an air traffic control supervisor.
The surprise was this. Leslie had been inspired by reports around the globe of various groups applauding front line hospital workers. Why not invite the neighborhood to gather out on Shepherd Lane, our main drag, to applaud Carianne when she arrived home Wednesday from her shift?
Text messages flew around as the eight o’clock hour approached. Jordan would be riding, with the boys, in a car behind Carianne. He would signal Leslie when they were about to turn into Shepherd Lane.
As it happened, many, many neighbors showed up, parking their cars along the street and getting out to applaud. When Carianne’s headlights appeared at the end of the street, word was passed along to turn on our hazard lights. Somehow, in that moment, it all turned to magic. I welled up. I turned to my wife, Linda, and she was welling up. Later, I learned that Leslie and just about everybody welled up.
Carianne was totally surprised, but still so aware, that she paused next to each little group and said “Thank you” out of her car window. Her kids were cute, reaching out the window to take it all in. Applause filled the air. Horns honked. Lights blinked and flashed. Jordan acknowledged each sign and the children who had created them. There was a brief gathering around her car as it approached the her home and then poof, it was over. A kind of uncertain silence ensued. Some chatted a bit and then we all went home.
We did not, however, go home as quite the same people who had gone out. Something about it all touched people deeply. I was moved, too. I am welling up again as I write. Ledge-Lowe is a peaceful place but, like the houses, we are somewhat distant from each other. Not alienated, just busy coming and going. Now, though, Leslie tells me, people are asking her when we can do something like that again. There is a new desire to come together. For one brief, shining moment, we caught a glimpse of the City of God and it’s turning our tears into dancing.
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.