Building community while being quarantined.

Philippians 2:4 "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others"

In addition to the Covid-19 restrictions, 2020 in St. Paul and Minneaplis also brought riots following George Floyd's death as well as contentious elections.

The riots brought many days of looting, property destruction and burning of businesses, constant blaring of sirens from ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles as well as the beating of helicopters overhead.

The fear of Covid kept most of us away from our needed daily interactions with friends, family and church which caused great stress for many. As a Health Coach with a focus on heart health, I was concerned for those cut off from the life support of the community: worshiping with others, being restricted from regular medical care and living in isolation with fear, especially for those living alone.

We all needed human contact. Zoom, Facetime or other forms of electronic communication, while helpful, were not fulfilling God's desire for us to live in human connection.

Well! My wife, Mary and our neighbor and friend, Jan, decided to bring the neighborhood, our small community, together to alleviate the isolation and loneliness so many were experiencing and to bring life closer to our past normal. We all needed human contact. Zoom, Facetime or other forms of electronic communication, while helpful, were not fulfilling God's desire for us to live in human connection. Mary and Jan developed a plan to have an outdoors neighborhood Happy Hour. They carefully and safely distributed fliers within the neighborhood providing a date and time along with suggested Covid-safe protocols.

The plan was to meet with the neighbors in your block and bring your own beverage. The event was a great success. It brought together the young and us more mature folks, single people and those married with and without children, all with a variety of occupations and lifestyles. Some have recently moved into the neighborhood and, what's so amazing (and also a bit sad), is that some of us have lived near each other for 30 years and had never met. People were getting out, connecting and developing relationships with their neighbors.

We spoke, of course, of the current events that were taking place. Most importantly, people were enjoying being out of their homes and talking with each other. This turned out to be an on-going Friday occurrence and, even though the groups started dwindling in size, our core group stayed consistent. Mary and I were blessed to connect with a group that was in the next block.

As our small community started talking about our families, health issues, etc, we developed closer relationships with each other and these relationships continued to grow. Even if it was just an hour out of the week, we wanted to keep our Friday Happy Hour going because it became an important part of our week. Unfortunately, due to Minnesota winter weather, it became necessary to temporarily halt our meetings until Spring when the weather is warmer.

Mary and I also decided to put a patio in our front yard purposefully to meet new people and continue to build relationships in our community where we know each other and can help when needed. We refer to our patio as the “Covid Patio” as a reminder that we can overcome and be in community with others no matter what challenges or obstacles are put in our path.

I believe God will continue to provide opportunities for me to share my faith and to reach those who may be struggling with heart issues. I do know our small community that is developing relationships has been a source of relief from stress and isolation which leads to a healthier life. On March 8th, 2021, the trials will begin in Minneapolis regarding the death of Mr. Floyd. Preparations are now being made to protect the city because of the potential violence that may occur. I ask for your prayers that God's justice prevails.

Your Heart, Your Life. Claim it.

Rhett Rettinger

Health and Life Coach