Back in April, I was enchanted by a story I read about two octogenarians, one living in northern-most Germany, the other living in southern-most Denmark, who had fallen in love, only to be separated when the COVID-19 virus led Denmark to close its border with Germany in mid-March.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Every day since the border was closed, Inga Rasmussen, an 85-year-old retired caterer, and Karsten Hansen, an 89-year-old retired farmer, have met at the Mollehusvej border crossing to visit, share food and drink, and stay connected. She drives her Toyota Yaris, he rides his bike. He brings the chairs and the schnapps, she brings the coffee and the table. Sitting a yard or two apart, they straddle the border and enjoy one another’s company.
Each day in their new routine, Karsten brings Inga a present and Inga brings a home baked good for Karsten. A local Danish mayor was cycling by one day and was touched by their story, posting their picture on Facebook. This brought about several local radio and newspaper interviews, eventually leading to an April writeup in the New York Times. In June, Germany reopened its border with Denmark, and presumably Inga and Karsten have resumed seeing each other at their homes.
As I think about this story, I’m reminded of the numerous ways that the COVID-19 virus has impacted people around the world. At this point, most of us know multiple people who have contracted the virus and some of us know at least one person who has died from it. All of us have experienced changes and adjustments in our everyday lives and each of us is trying to make the best of a challenging situation.
Which brings me back to Inga and Karsten, who seem to know that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. We each have choices to make about how to handle the losses we’re experiencing during this time of social distancing, mask-wearing, online learning, elbow-bumping, work-from-home, no-large-gatherings-allowed. No, this is not what we wanted. No, this is not fun. But how will we choose to respond to these difficult and frustrating circumstances? My encouragement is to make the most of the opportunities that are before you, to find ways to bless others despite the pandemic, to reflect God’s light and love wherever you can. In other words, make some lemonade.