It was Thomas Paine who, in 1776, wrote in “The American Crisis,” “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

Those words come to mind as the coronavirus epidemic rages, mercilessly causing suffering and death.

Fear and hopeless abound, but don’t lose sight of the kind of selflessness we’re seeing throughout the community, beauty of tulips opening on an early spring morning and ideas that brighten dark corners.

Early this week, Diva Nails & Spa in Ocean View provided hand sanitizer, free of charge,  to the local police department.

Last week, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery announced it would start making hand sanitizer and sell it to the State of Delaware for healthcare providers and first-responders —  at market price, then use proceeds to help those affected by the coronavirus.

Masks are in short supply, so healthcare professionals in Billings, Mont., are using 3D printers to create them, and make them reusable and able to be disinfected.

The Rev. David Humphrey, pastor of Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church in Ocean View posted a comforting video of himself singing, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.”

The Rev. Matthew D’Amario, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ocean City, Md., prayed, also in a YouTube video, “You are God and we need you.”

“There will be a time when the God of all help and resurrection delivers us from this immediate peril and we will return to the ordinary lives that we have, despite this extraordinary time,” he said.

“Let us then begin our journey together, not with despair but with hope, not with terror but with courage and not with anxiety but with faith.”

Another pastor, the Rev. Martin Hutchison of Salisbury, Md., posted on Facebook this uplifting prediction, written by Kitty O’Meara:

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened and rested and exercised and made art and play games, and learned new ways of being and were still.

“And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.

“Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses and made new choices and dreamed new images and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully as they had been healed.”

Time magazine reported that holiday lights are being taken out of storage and strung again.

Sports broadcaster Lane Grindle proposed the idea on Twitter, writing, “What if we all put our Christmas lights back up? Then we could get in the car and drive around and look at them. That seems like a fair social distancing activity.”

The old-time game of marbles is making a comeback, according to a CNN story that describes the colorful spheres racing down a path and crashing into each other.

Sounds like fun, as does reading Ellen Corbin’s book “The Pebble of Gibraltar,” told to the author by the pebble. Corbin, of course, was the well-known actress who portrayed the grandmother on “The Waltons.”

The book is described in a review as a “fun, educational novel about a little rock that travels around southern Europe, visiting Spain, France and Italy.”

It’s said to be “a uniquely imaginative allegory with many perceptive, humorous and historical treasures among its pages.”

For those tired of holding books, StoryOnline’s YouTube channel has videos of celebrities including Betty White and Oprah Winfrey reading children’s books aloud in 6- to 12-minute segments.

The clever-minded have come up with entertaining ways for staying occupied at home, including building an obstacle course, putting on a puppet show, writing in a journal, coloring bookmarks, painting suncatchers, designing friendship bracelets and making a thankful jar, superhero costume or funny animals from paper bags.

Lovely observations and words of hopefulness have been encountered on Facebook, like, “When this is over, may we never take for granted a handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theater, Friday night out, the taste of communion, a routine checkup, a school rush each morning.

“Coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring, each deep breath, a boring Tuesday, life itself.

“When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be. We were called, to be. We hoped to be. And may we stay that way better for each other, because of the worst.”

And, finally, may we remember the wise words of author Maya Angelou, “Every storm runs out of rain.”

Staff Reporter

Veteran news reporter Susan Canfora has written for many newspapers and held positions ranging from managing editor to her favorite, news reporter. She joined the Coastal Point in June 2019. She teaches college writing, tutors and professionally edits.