One day last week, a piece of banana bread when down the wrong pipe for Becky Moser and she spent 10 minutes trying to get a cough under control. She said she “immediately” thought she had the coronavirus and her anxiety level kicked through the roof so much that she made herself go to sleep.

While she surely does not have COVID-19 and a piece of bread just slid down her throat awkwardly, it made for a funny story and provided some laughs at the daily prayer meeting among her cul-de-sac mates in Madison Heights in Strasburg.

“Being able to share that story with my friends and for us to get a laugh out of it, it’s really a stress relief we all need,” Moser said. “The four walls are closing in on all of us. I’m just here with my husband, and after a while he’s heard all my stories. It’s nice for a few minutes to have someone else to talk to.”

Moser and her neighbors have begun meeting nightly at 7 p.m. outside their homes — “6 feet apart, in a circle, in the circle,” she said.

They gather to break up the monotony of being told to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Typically, there are about eight people around the circle, ranging from the mid-50s to 12 years old. They share stories, jokes, devotionals and they take time to pray with and for each other.

“We’ve always been a very close-knit community up here in Madison Heights. Our children all went to school together, and now they’re grown,” Moser said. “We’re all great believers in the power of prayer and are pretty faithful people. So, we got the idea that it might be nice to meet every day for just a few minutes at the prescribed safe distance outdoors to have some prayer time together.”

Moser said she takes prayer requests via Facebook, where she can be reached by searching for Becky Solomon Moser.

Devotional material isn’t set by any rules, she said. The first one, shared by Moser, was found by searching for COVID-19 devotionals. Other neighbors have simply shared Scripture that is helping them through this time.

A few of those who gather share concerns for their grown children, some who work in the medical field or are in states with high cases of the virus.

“It’s just a good time for parents with children who aren't home and are very much in harm’s way to share our fears a little bit. I’m a big believer that sometimes getting it out makes it a little easier to bear,” Moser said. “It certainly is a great relief for the anxiety that we’re all kind of going through.”

Moser said, too, they like to focus on the needs of the community.

“I think one of the best ways to move past our fear sometimes is to focus on the needs of others who are in a worse situation than we are and to try and help them,” she said. “That’s been a huge benefit for us, too, to know that we can step away from our own fears for a minute and pray for someone else. We can be stronger together. Feed your faith, not your fear. Anyone who has a concern, get it to us and we’ll lift it up in prayer.”

Moser said the routine meetings give those involved something to look forward to each day again during a time where “normal” has been interrupted. She said the group waves to those driving by, trying to “spread a little hope” in a time that so many feel despair.

She hopes others will join.

“The more we grow, the more we have to shout a little bit to be heard,” she said. “We’ll get a megaphone if we need to.”

— Contact Matt Welch at mwelch@winchesterstar.com.