We are nearing that time of the year when election signs will begin competing for space
on just about every yard and street corner throughout town. Though this jostling for
prime real estate seems to happen earlier and earlier each year, it seems only a few
signs have entered the competition so far.
That’s what made a new sign I began seeing widely across town a couple of weeks ago
catch my eye. I initially assumed it was the work of an ambitious candidate capitalizing
on some free time to get their campaign started early. After driving by dozens of these
signs, I finally stopped to take a closer look. To my relief, it wasn’t a sign of the
campaign season that’s soon to descend upon us. Instead it was a message that
immediately lifted my spirits. The sign read in Spanish and English, “The only thing that
is more contagious than a virus is hope.”
I’ve since learned this project is a joint initiative of North Range Behavioral Health and
Bank of Colorado. Nearly 1,300 of these signs dot communities in Weld County, so I’m
guessing you’ve probably noticed them as well.
The specific impact of this unprecedented time certainly varies among people. But it’s a
pretty safe bet to assume that the anxiety and worry we are experiencing is shared by
many others in our community.
While it’s never entirely accurate to say to another person, “I know how you feel,”
possibly more so than ever before, our personal experience offers us the opportunity to
have a deeper understanding and a greater empathy for the struggles and challenges
our neighbors are facing.
In the midst of this shared experience of upheaval and uncertainty, there is one thing we
all are looking for right now – signs of hope.
My faith tells me that I should be as concerned about signs of hope existing for my
neighbor as I am about them existing for myself. It’s natural during difficult times for our
circles of concern to be drawn pretty small. While that may be our natural tendency, I
believe we are each called to the sacred work of being carriers of hope for our broader
community, not just for ourselves or those closest to us.
A section of the well known prayer of St. Francis speaks to this sentiment beautifully:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…where there is despair let me sow hope.”
I have a strong conviction that religious communities have an important role to play in
this work of cultivating hope. I have been encouraged by the way I have witnessed
people showing their faith through works of generosity, kindness, and compassion. I
have also seen how people’s spiritual convictions have led them to hold a particular
concern for the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors right now: the elderly, the
unemployed, the immunocompromised, the immigrants and refugees.
But it is certainly not only faith communities who are serving as signs of hope for our
community. Just to name a few examples: Weldwerks and Tower 56 have produced
thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer; The Weld Recovers Fund set up by The Weld
Community Foundation and United Way has raised well over $100,000 to support the
relief efforts of local non-profits; and a newly formed Facebook group called the NOCO
Mask Making Team has made and distributed nearly 7,500 masks in our area.
This broad-based community involvement in the essential work of bringing signs of
hope into people’s lives is such good news to me. The more of us who commit
ourselves to be carriers of hope for others, the more widely hope will spread in our
So before all those signs that tend to divide us start popping up around town, I hope that
we will continue turning towards signs that have the purpose of uniting us right now.
Rev. Ben Konecny