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This month, I’ve been helping old ladies cross the street. And men, actually. It’s been a thing I’ve been doing. A few of those men actually think I’m a lady. That’s how I knew it was time to get my hair cut.

All this has been going down at the vaccine clinic. I was invited to be part of the effort to get people vaccinated. I don’t have any shooting skills, not needles, not basketballs, so I’ve been relegated to traffic duty where I get to help old ladies, and gentlemen who like to flirt, across the street and inside where the people who know how to shoot work.

It’s been quite a thing. I spend about half the time clearing tears from my eyes so I can make sure there are no cars coming in either direction. The tears come out of nowhere. Sometimes the cars do, too, so you got to keep an eye out.

I’ve been crying because it’s so darn beautiful watching these old ladies and gentlemen get a chance at living again. You should see the difference between helping them across the street to the clinic and helping them back to their cars after they get their shot. You would think they put some kind of energy boost in the serum. They rarely need my help back to their car, to tell you the truth. They are leaning on something stronger than my arm that’s for sure.

You know what it is? It’s hope.

I’ve been watching hope happen right before my eyes, and it’s enough to make you cry. It makes me cry. I know that much.

How you doing with hope?

For so many, the quality has been in short supply the last near a year. But helping those old folks, even the ones that mistake me for a different gender, I’ll tell you, it’s been inspiring to me to watch the hope happen for them.

One day, it will be my turn to get my shot. And it will be yours, too, if it hasn’t happened already. I hope you take it. I plan to take mine.

In the meantime, I’m hoping through osmosis. I offer my arm and they pass on a little of their hope to me. And together, armed with hope, we get across to the other side.

Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founder and Executive Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows, a non-profit dedicated to equipping people to live seamless lives as they grow into the men and women they were created to be. He is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed novel Clay. He, his wife, two children, dogs, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, and chickens live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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