Having to self-quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many families spending more quality time with one another.

Although we’ve heard lots of humorous accounts of kids getting bored and driving their parents and siblings crazy while being inside most of the day, I believe that being forced to slow down from the hectic pace of work and school will be one of the outcomes that makes us stronger as we emerge from this upheaval in our lives.

My graduate school roommate, Joyce, and her husband, Darnell, shared two stories with me that have brought more laughter and thoughtful reflection of God’s blessings to their family.

I’ll begin with the story of laughter first, and while I am chuckling as I write about this hilarious sequence of events, just know that this could have been a Geico commercial.

So, one evening last week, Darnell was sitting in his car finishing up a telephone call. It was a normal end to his workday, and when he completed his conversation, he shut the garage door and entered his home. About an hour later, Joyce and Darnell’s son, Joshua, who is home from college, hears rumblings in the garage.

“Dad,” Joshua asks with a little apprehension in his voice, “are you in the garage?”

“No,” his father calmly answers.

The rumblings become louder, and swift movement and scratching is heard near the kitchen door. Now convinced that an intruder is trying to break in, Joshua yells, “Daaaad! Somebody is IN the garage!”

Darnell rushes to the kitchen door and bumps against it, still hearing something fiddling with the knob on the outside. With a sense of urgency, he takes a butcher knife, and Joshua grabs a baseball bat, and they scurry around the house to confront what they think is a burglar.

Poised to defend themselves, they are shocked to find the garage door open. No one is in there, but there are paw prints that ultimately reveal the culprit: a raccoon.

As Darnell traces the paw prints, they lead to the top of the garage door button. He then realizes that somehow the raccoon figured out how to press the button and let himself out!

Darnell also concludes that his unwelcome guest must have snuck into the garage while he was on the phone earlier and was closed in for about two hours. Due to the droppings left on top of the lid, it was apparent that the raccoon had made himself a hearty meal in the trash bin.

Relieved but also somewhat irritated, Joshua quipped, “That was just rude! That little punk!”

Talk about a much-needed laugh!

After I finished giggling with Joyce for several minutes, I immediately thought about how Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a merry heart, or laughter, “doeth good like a medicine.” I think we can all agree that laughter is the perfect medicine during the daily challenges we face brought on by COVID-19.

Now on to the second story. Joyce has an artificial fall wreath on her front door, and she recently made the pleasant discovery of a robin building a nest in it.

“Perhaps the robin thought it looked a little like a tree,” Joyce said with a smile. “We hear her singing early in the morning.”

There are four eggs in the nest, and Joyce believes that the robin’s morning songs are a reflection of God’s tender mercies and care as she begins her day working from home. It’s the type of divine tranquility that has provided peace in the midst of so much chaos and uncertainty that Joyce and all of us are witnessing.

While I’d much rather have an encounter with a robin than a raccoon, I am eager to pay more attention to the little things that God wants to show us, especially now. Mother robins are known to attentively care for their eggs, never leaving them for more than five minutes, and they make sure that their eggs are properly incubated.

Hearing about the robin that has made herself at home literally at Joyce and Darnell’s front door, I believe God is saying, “Rise up early to enter into the joy of my presence. Don’t worry, and take rest in my covering over your life.”

— Jessica Johnson is a lecturer in the English Department at The Ohio State University at Lima. Contact her at smojc.jj@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter: @JjSmojc. Click here for more columns. The opinions expressed are her own.