A text to keep in touch
Karen Feit connects with friends through inspirational text messages.
RUSHMORE — There have been social media memes asking people to pray for the huggers — they are not OK in the midst of a global pandemic in which less than six feet of separation is frowned upon.
While it might generate a smile, or even a laugh, there’s certainly some truth mixed in. For extroverts who love to be around people, it’s been a tough year.
Karen Feit is an extrovert who has had her hospital auxiliary meetings cancelled, her coffee club called off and has missed her card-playing cohorts for the better part of 2020. It would have been downright lonely had it not been for an idea that came to her like a whisper in the wind.
Feit’s story begins in November 2019, when she got sick and had to stay home from the family Thanksgiving gathering. Two weeks later, she contracted shingles and was forced into a six-week quarantine. Yes, the Christmas of 2019 was a lonely one.
Then, in January — just one day out of quarantine — Feit was washing the dishes and somehow connected a large mixing bowl with the counter. The bowl broke in her hands, cutting them rather severely.
“We couldn’t get into town because of a blizzard,” Feit said, adding that her husband, Tom, is a first responder and wrapped up her hands until she could get to the hospital the next morning.
“I couldn’t use my hands for two to three weeks — I still felt like I was in quarantine,” she shared.
Once the hands healed, the Feits planned to leave for Texas to enjoy the weather until Minnesota’s winter was finally over. Once again, disaster struck — this time in the form of COVID-19.
“We were in San Antonio and were supposed to go to Galveston, but it was Spring Break and COVID started,” shared Feit. “We came home late on March 15, and the next day was when the governor closed Minnesota.”
Weary from all that had happened in the last five months, Feit said she was sitting at home and felt someone tap her shoulder. She was the only one at home at the time.
“It was like the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, ‘As social as you are, you have to do something to connect with the people you aren’t able to see,’” recalled Feit.
She said she was led to come up with something — and that something was a daily text message offering hope and encouragement to others.
Feit first reached out to some high school friends, and it then expanded to groups she’s involved with locally. As time has progressed and more people have learned about the texts, her list has grown to some 250 people.
“I write a short little inspirational thing and try to relate it to something in my life,” Feit said of the daily texts. Sometimes it’s a funny story, sometimes it’s a word, and always the message includes a Bible verse to inspire those who read it.
Feit has learned to copy and paste on her iPhone, sending out messages by groups each day between 7:30 and 9 a.m. Leading up to Christmas, her daily text focused on one of the 12 days of Christmastide, from the partridge in a pear tree symbolizing Jesus, the son of God, all the way up to the 12 drummers drumming, which refers to the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.
“It has been such a Godsend for me,” Feit said of her project. “I’m such a social person. Because I’ve had so many health problems, I’m doubly aware and doubly trying to keep safe.”
Not only have the texts kept Feit connected with others during the pandemic, there have been wonderful offshoots from the connections.
For instance, the reconnections with classmates led to plans to shower a former teacher with birthday cards on his 95th birthday. Through Feit’s small group, word spread far and wide, and the teacher received 164 birthday cards.
“We all wrote memories (from his class),” Feit said of the cards. It’s inspired her and others to do similar card showers or something to deliver happiness to others at least once a month.
“Especially for the older folks — they’re really suffering; they can’t go out,” she added.
Feit said her daily texts, sent out to people aged 12 to 90, have enriched her life and helped her to cope with the disappointment of not being able to go out and visit with her friends.
“That tap on the shoulder was very meaningful to me,” she said. “I want people to know that I’m thinking about them.”
Feit said she will continue with the text messages until COVID is over, and said there’s always room in the inn, if someone wants to get on her list to receive the daily texts. To do so, email Feit at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide a cell phone number.
“If I can help one person a day feel a little bit better, I’ve met my goal and I can feel that there are people being touched with my words,” she shared. “It gives me a sense that this is the least I can do. It’s not costing me anything, but it’s making somebody’s life better. It’s made my life much richer.”
In addition to sending out her inspirational texts, Feit has spent her time during the pandemic keeping busy. She was part of a group that sewed 6,000 face masks earlier this year, and has also been crocheting little snowmen with facemasks — she calls them the COVID casualty crowd — which are filled with treats to bring cheer to others.