Family Bonding And Spirituality During The Coronavirus
The new year ushered in many things—a new decade, new resolutions—but 2020 also brought a new epidemic. In December 2019, an outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in Wuhan, China. By March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the international outbreak a pandemic. Now, several states across the U.S. have implemented bans and lockdowns to stop the spread of COVID-19.
It’s a new way of life for many families around the country—but also an opportunity to strengthen familial bonds, practice Hoon Dok Hwe, and enhance our relationship with God. (Hoon Dok Hwe is a term for the practice of reading the Divine Principle, the main teachings of the Unificationist movement.)
Take a look at how these families are using this time to connect with each other, their communities, and their faith.
Dan and Tamara Perry
Albany, New York
At first I saw this whole coronavirus pandemic as a very negative, scary thing, and working from home has been pretty challenging. But then I realized that I can take advantage of this time to spend on projects with my three kids and tap into my creative side, doing the things we’ve always wanted. I would like to write a children’s book while my kids always wanted to build this Harry Potter mansion playset, and now we have plenty of time! I want to create family bonding moments and have this be some of the best memories of our lives. I don’t want to remember 2020 where we were all stuck at home and miserable and Mommy had her mental breakdown. It has been a great experience so far—the kids are bonding more with their grandfather who visits every day—and I’m FaceTiming more and getting back into the habit of writing letters. My daughter’s birthday party was canceled, but we still had an intimate party at home. We’re practicing what we learn from the spiritual words in Hoon Dok Hwe, like patience. Patience was always a word that was thrown around, but during this time it has really been a chance for all of us to learn and practice it, along with other virtues and ideas, using everything in a practical way. This is the time for my kids to show God and their ancestors what they can do. We’re practicing how to look at each other from a team perspective, through communication and really understanding each other, to work as a cohesive unit.
Reony and Adalia Tonneyck
My husband is still working normal days at home. He always worked just a few days at the office. Both of my teaching jobs have been affected—one is completely online for the rest of the semester and they even canceled graduation. I work with a lot of seniors and they are all heartbroken. The teachers here are recording lectures online and we’re lucky to have a lot of resources, but we do have to reformat my class curriculum because a lot of the projects were hands-on. For my husband and me, it’s been nice to see each other all day; it’s a nice little bonus when we usually have crazy schedules and not much time with our two-year-old son. There are no church services, so we’re live streaming them and taking in more spiritual words. We are blessed that our jobs aren’t at risk, and we’re all healthy so that enables us to help other people. We have a young family group video chat just to say ‘Hi’ to each other and check in. Everyone was so excited to see each other’s faces! Because it’s such a stressful and strenuous time right now, human interaction and connection is important. We are listening to podcasts that are inspirational; we practice our prayer life with our son and he says ‘Aju’ at the end of it; and I am praying more. My dad and sister are in New York and both have compromised immune systems. My mom is locked up in her nursing home and no one can visit her. But we are staying positive—taking afternoon walks together and asking if there are any older members of the community that need help right now. I’ve donated blood and I’m sewing face masks to give to children’s hospitals. I feel like I have the time now to focus on those things.
Jesus and Sahara Cardenas
Wood Dale, Illinois
I’m a caregiver and my husband works in quality control at a bottling production plant, so we’ve seen an increase in volume at work. I’m helping more home-based clients who are in need of that companionship and disinfecting their homes. I drive an elderly lady to see her husband at a nursing home, which is now on lockdown so she sees him through the window. I’m lucky that the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t affected my family. We have six girls, ages four to 17-year-old twins. We don’t have cable at home because we prefer to do family games, and my kids have a routine and chore list to follow. When all of my girls are home, they’ll partner with each other and cook, bake, and make crafts together. They rotate responsibilities. Now with school closed, we read more e-books and kids’ read-along books on YouTube, and watch tutorials that show how to draw. We also make time to take walks to the park. Because of the variation in their ages, it’s challenging to do traditional Hoon Dok Hwe in my family, but we have set aside two hours on Saturdays to participate in a church book club. We have discussions about Godible, or other audibles by Moody Bible or Joel Osteen. My kids are spiritually sensitive, and I’m raising them to be independent, safe, secure, and to have a heart for others.
Hubert and Claire Haider
Carlstadt, New Jersey
Normally I volunteer to help my school district, but New Jersey has closed its public schools due to the coronavirus. I know it’s a scary time for everyone, but especially for those who are older than me. I decided to start going to the grocery store at 6:00 a.m. to take advantage of the senior shopping time, and called several other seniors to ask if they needed anything. This one elderly woman who lives down the block from me asked to come with me and my husband because she doesn’t have a car. At the grocery store we waited in a long line together to buy various items for people, and when my husband went to pay he was told that a stranger had already paid for it. It was about $90 worth of food! Then when my neighbor went to pay for her items, the stranger returned to pay for hers too, spending another $80. We were all shocked. I think that this is what this time is all about—helping each other out and making a positive difference. We are all one family. These acts of kindness put our faith into practice. It’s a chance to spend more time with my kids and grandkids, but it’s also a chance to do more for other people and pay it forward.
Miguel and Richelle Consoro
Clifton, New Jersey
I’m grateful because my two kids are home now and my family is safe. Schools and stores are closed, but I’m not going to worry. Of course there’s a lot of work with everyone being at home, but we’re spending more time together. When we think about this time in a positive way, my husband and I look at it as God giving us an opportunity to spend more time with family than we normally would have during a regular day. It’s a chance to create stronger bonds by doing things together, like cleaning and chores, kids’ homework online, reading together, going outside, and enjoying each other’s company. We have a tradition of doing Hoon Dok Hwe together, and my oldest child has memorized the Family Pledge (core pledge of Unificationists), but my husband has encouraged us all to also do Sunday service online. We don’t have to put the coronavirus crisis in a totally negative light for our kids. Looking at everything positively has helped them to overcome any fear. Instead, we view this time as God giving people a rest to do things together with their family.
Nelson and Satomi Mira
We live near Seattle, where the first case of the coronavirus in the U.S. was detected. Public schools are shut down for at least the next two months, so our 14-year-old daughter is at home with us. My wife works at two Japanese restaurants and one of them closed, while the other one is only open for takeout. And I’ve had a big project delayed as a home-repair business contractor. Despite that, it’s awesome that my family sees so much of each other every day now. We watch a lot of movies together, and we’ve watched the live Sunday service broadcast in New York City. I encourage everyone to also watch it. We have already been brainstorming and preparing online Sunday service content in our own community. This could be a change not just economically in society, but also within the Unificationist movement. We always try to see the positive, brighter side of things. But at the same time, we are concerned about the spiritual health of our communities, especially when we think about the upcoming summer programs for our youth which may not happen now. This time has allowed us to think beyond ourselves and more about our community as a whole. I think God was really protecting our greater Unificationist family, because the coronavirus crisis didn’t take off globally until after the 2020 World Summit. I think right now is a great opportunity to create eternal memories together and to help each other. What you do for people in moments of crisis means so much more; a little act of kindness goes a long way in this current climate.