Let me take four or five of your precious minutes to acknowledge some people trying to make the best of these challenging times — the pandemic, the emotional tsunami over the death of George Floyd by police up in Minneapolis and the ongoing catastrophe of the Trump administration.

First, about the face masks: A niece of the late Baltimore congressman, Elijah Cummings, has been making fashionable face masks for three months, and decided recently to pay tribute to her uncle with his most-quoted line: “We are better than this!” Deborah Cummings-Thomas said she got the idea while reading my May 31 Sun column. “When I read your column it occurred to me that while we may not be able to have Elijah’s voice, we do have his words as a reminder that “we are better than this.” She sells them for $14 each and will give a portion to a community group she says she hasn’t selected yet. Deborah goes by Baltimore’s Mask Lady on Facebook, and that’s where you can find ordering information.

The Baltimore Sun’s Christina Tkacik has a good story today about Amanda Mack and the adjustments she had to make because of the coronavirus to achieve her dream of opening a bakery. While some long-time food establishments are closing for good, “Mack and a few other restaurant owners are preparing to actually open new ones, modifying their businesses to suit a world that suddenly looks so different than a few months ago.” 

Meanwhile, I hear from a good source behind the counter that business has picked up again at the French patisserie and boulangerie, Bonjour, at Falls Road and Lake Avenue. The owners and employees have made the now-familiar adjustments, and customers know what they have to do to get the good stuff — order ahead and pick up curbside, or come inside, three max at a time, and maintain social distance. It’s the COVID normal, and the croissants are still excellent.

Last and best of all: If you live in north Baltimore or the Towson area you’ve probably heard church bells ringing at 7 pm. For the last couple of months several churches — up to 12 at one time this spring — have sounded a tribute to front-line health care workers each evening. Cynthia Fraser, an associate of mine from the Rodricks For Breakfast days at WMAR-TV (March 1995-October 1999) came up with this idea. At last count, Grace Presbyterian Church and Church of the Redeemer were chiming in, along with Immaculate Conception Church and Trinity Episcopal Church in Towson. Other churches have taken part in the ritual. (Click here for a YouTube video, and have a listen.) The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen participates, and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton does, too. In fact, that’s where the nightly ringing started in late April.

Mike Schuh with Cynthia Fraser

“My neighbors, some are not even religious, told me now that they know why the bells are ringing, and they come outside at 7 every night just to hear our bells,” Cynthia says. “It has made people smile, it has made people cry, but everyone has been very uplifted by our bells. I am hoping the bells provide comfort to everyone. The bells are a symbol of community, that we are all in this together. I was heartened by the response. No matter the denomination, all wanted to join our effort without hesitation.”

Before his unfortunate departure from WJZ-TV, veteran reporter Mike Shuh filed a report on the bell tribute.

“ I hope this experience reminds us that we are one human family and no matter our religious beliefs, we are connected and can all participate in serving the common good,” said the Rev. Arianne Rice, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd.

If your church wants to participate, let Cynthia Fraser know. Her email is cyfraser@comcast.net

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