Spring is in the air.  You can feel it trying to break through the on and off again frosty mornings. Robins are out in droves and the dandelions are in full bloom beckoning the bees to come and pollinate them.  

It’s a beautiful thing.

I would feel ungrateful if I didn’t have a big smile on my face because of it, and I’ve noticed I’m not the only one feeling joyful these days. It’s as contagious as our lingering COVID-19 virus only it yields promises of sun on our face and a salty breeze in our hair.  

I love donuts!  

It’s not an uncommon love, I even have been known to make my own, but my favorite donuts come from a place in Jesup called Sugar & Spice. They are scrumptious clouds of glazed goodness.  

On a recent donut run, a young melanin-blessed young lady was my cashier. She donned a shirt that read “The Future is Love”. At that moment there was no truer statement on this planet. She emulated the sentiment and glowed with kindness.  This girl had it all figured out.  Instead of wearing a shirt that celebrated separation from one another, she wore a shirt that explained, quite simply, how we can be united.  

Love.  

I may sound like a 60’s era hippies humming “All you need is love!” I’m not foolish enough to believe that entirely, however. Love does not conquer all, but showing love, learning to love, inspiring others to love, creates a much easier path to peace than anger and hatred ever will.  

I love Publix!  

It’s my favorite grocery store. I cook a lot of ethnic food and many of the ingredients I cannot find anywhere else are in abundance there. Publix is the Chik-Fil-A of grocery stores when it comes to customer service. I am greeted at the door with a smile and a friendly welcome. I cannot pass one of their employees without hearing “Can I help you find something?” or “Is there something I can help you with?”. The cashiers are super friendly, as if I have known them forever.  

My favorite thing about Publix is they hire people with developmental disabilities. The last time I shopped, my groceries were bagged by a beautiful young lady with Down’s Syndrome. Behind her stood a patient employee mentor, only occasionally stepping in to help if the task seemed overwhelming. We were all masked, but I could see through the light in her eyes that we were also all smiling.  How could something as simple as watching this young girl succeed against all odds cause us to smile so brilliantly?

Love. The love her mentor had for her was beaming, we couldn’t help but absorb it and smile along.  It does a body good.

I love love!  

It’s a silly thing to say, but it’s true. I get giddy when I am surrounded by people showing and sharing love. I even gush over animal love, and sometimes especially so, because it is purely innocent and without expectations.  

The word can be used in numerous ways. “Hello, my love!” “Your home is lovely!” “I absolutely love your new hair style”, “I’d love to come for a visit!” “I love you!”  It’s quite intoxicating to say also when you truly mean it.

Why all this talk of love?  It’s a Spring thing. The Springtime story of Bambi teaches us with new flowers and buds on the trees comes that feeling of being ‘twitter-pated’, being in love.  

What do you love? Is it a sweet treat, a favorite shopping destination, a person, a season, a pet? How are you going to translate that love into making our world a better place?  

If each of us channeled this powerful force for good, we could create positive change around us. After all, like my young friend’s shirt exclaimed, “ The future is love”.

• Stephanie Bell is Executive Director of Pierce County Family Connection.