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VandeMoortel: Searching for peace during these trying times
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VandeMoortel: Searching for peace during these trying times

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Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.

We are approaching Independence Day this year as a nation in turmoil, leaving many in search of peace.

I recently asked friends where they find peace, they responded with: faith, loved ones, nature, food, routine, music, sports, books, and community.

I have friends who have been attending church services sitting in cars in parking lots while others have navigated the world of technology to bring the church into their own living room. Prayer groups are happening via Zoom and Google meets.

Knowing those we love are safe and happy brings great comfort. Being able to hear my son tell stories of what his family of seven has done while sheltering in place brings peace to my heart. I get Messenger Kid calls from children who invite me into their world of Legos and art projects. I am grateful to have a large screen on my phone so I can easily see the toothless grin of a granddaughter who lost four teeth in as many weeks. YouTube videos show me kids swimming, rollerblading, and wielding hammers and power tools while helping with home repair projects. I’ve had the honor of listening to the fresh voices of children as they read. I am endlessly enchanted by silly giggles as kids turn themselves into dinosaurs and dragons using the app’s filters. Playing games on Houseparty replaces game night with friends. Text messages, even when they are a simple emoji, let me know somebody is well and thinking of me.

Listening to birdsong and bullfrogs in my backyard and discovering miniature snails and turtles (which I am able to spot because I walk at the same pace they do!) on nature hikes soothes my soul. I am delighted to see the ever-changing colors of my garden as the ruffly peonies of Spring fade to make way for cheerful daisies dancing among golden daylilies.

My siblings and I have a text trail which features photos of food we have made. We are a family who definitely derives comfort from food. Another place I have found people enjoying the comfort of food is a Facebook group filled with posts about the offerings of local restaurants. This community forum has brought together folks who love food and are supporting our local businesses. The hero of this site is, of course, the person who started it and maintains it so we can stay updated with our area’s choices, but another hero is a man who has been writing reviews. His contributions to the page have strangers discussing his hilarity and returning each day to read about the food he has most recently devoured. A site intended to help our community has created community.

Drive by parades temporarily replaced Pomp and Circumstance for the graduates of our community. The Class of 2020 didn’t experience all of the “last times” they were expecting. They exited the school doors in March not knowing it would be the last time they would see their teachers and many of their classmates. I have hope they will show us what they are capable of in the future with the same spirit some are portraying with the slogan on their tee shirts: “Class of 2020 — Senior Skip Day Champions”

Let’s find peace for ourselves, for our communities, and for our nation so we can stand united during July Fourth celebrations which, like so much of 2020, will be different than ever before..

Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of stories.

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