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Joy in Community During Pandemic

Joy of Community - Moms of Teens Book Group

During the height of the pandemic, my long running Moms of Teens Book Club attempted to continue meeting virtually. We missed each other so much, but we found taking turns to talk in a Brady Bunch style box was restrictive for intentional sharing and fellowship. Although we found it awkward and less than ideal; it was better than not gathering at all.

When it was time to start a new book, we offered to create two different meetups – one to continue online and one to meet in person outdoors. We discovered all our book group preferred to see each other face to face so the idea of two groups was dismissed. Before our first meeting back in person we weren’t sure what to expect, or the comfort level of each woman. There were so many questions – Masks? Food? Seating distance? Would it be as awkward as meeting virtually? 


Moving forward with so many questions still up in the air, we selected a new book and scheduled our weekly time. 


At that first meeting, what we found was that we simply wanted… no, needed… to be together. All those lingering questions and answers about the pandemic protocols became unimportant. It felt simply wonderful to relax in each other’s company sharing stories, concerns, fears, and laughter. 


Oh, my, the laughter. None of us realized how serious the months of quarantine and social distancing had truly been until one in our group shared a story of what happened while pumping her gas. As she told us this story, we burst out laughing. The jokes started to roll, and the belly laughing was intense. There might have even been a snort while laughing so hard. Ha ha. 


Each of us, in that moment just let go of our tension and anxiety in one big exhale of laughter.
What a beautiful sound… and an even better feeling. We were back as a community.


After my turn hosting the book club on my back patio, my family “complained” about how loud we were as a group. They said they were worried the neighbors would complain about the noise coming from our book group. Can you imagine?? Complaining about too much laughter? Ha ha. What a lovely complaint after months of separation and meeting virtually. 


I tried to relay a story told on the patio that led to lots of laughing but my family just stared back in bewilderment. They just didn’t get it. It wasn’t that the story was hysterical, it was a release of the breath we’d all been holding since March of 2020. 


As I reflect on those nights of laughter, I realize the joy that had been missing during these months of isolation and social distancing. We are built for community, not for isolation from one another.
After our breakthrough of laughter, our little group relaxed a bit more and you could see everyone remembering why we came together as a group so many years ago - to support each other as moms through our current season of life. And this is definitely a unique season with all of us experiencing it together and in need of one another. 


Our subsequent book group meetings are now not so much about the book but about the time we spend together getting to know one another, listening to the stories, and holding each other up when needed. We’ve realized the importance of our community and the joy it brings to each of us. 

Lisa Henley Jones


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