“Wear a mask.”Dr. Anothny Fauci, CNN Interview, May 21, 2020
Almost exactly…one of my favorite oxymorons…one year ago, the entire world went into isolation. Suddenly, we could no longer visit friends and family, gather in church on Sunday morning, or cross the border into Canada. “I have a feeling we won’t be doing this for a while,” said my sister, Kelly, as we enjoyed her fabulous Friday night pizza together. That night we had no way of knowing just how prophetic her words would be. Now, just one day shy of an entire trip around the sun, we will complete the two-week wait after our second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. We’re still anticipating more guidelines from the CDC regarding what we can and cannot do after we’re vaccinated, but we know that sharing pizza and a glass of wine will be in our future once again soon.
” He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, That shadows a dry thirsty land; He hideth my life in the depth of His love, And covers me there with His Hand, And covers me there with His hand.”William James Kirpatrick and Fanny Crosby, He Hideth My Soul
I grew up in a small town in central, rural Michigan. Our neighborhood, full of kids, exemplified the post World War II Baby Boom. On warm summer evenings, it was common for a large group to join in games of Hide and Go Seek or one of its variations. The coming darkness and the element of suspense that it provided enhanced every game. The street light on the corner of our yard was often home base. The person who was “It” would cover their eyes and count. 5, 10, 15, 20——85, 90, 95, 100 Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie. Who’s not ready holler I…Ready or not. Here I come. The rest of us would seek a safe place to hide…to take shelter…all the time wondering if the place we had chosen was good enough. Could we be seen? Would we be found out? Could we tag home without being caught? I don’t know when I discovered it, but I found that there was the perfect hiding spot behind the shrubs beneath my parents’ bedroom window. The way into this hidey-hole was tricky, but once there it was almost impossible to be seen. I remember the smell of the piney branches and the damp earth as I waited for the seeker to move far enough away from the base to allow me to slip out, run, and tag myself free. I used the protection of my sanctuary over and over with great success. One evening however one of the younger kids…they were almost all younger kids…was in a panic. 55-60-65-70. She didn’t know where to hide. The seeker would soon turn and discover her. I watched…but made my decision within seconds. How could I have enjoyed the safety I’d found if I’d watched her be tagged out? I leaned out from behind the bushes far enough to be seen as I beckoned her towards my hiding place. Not in a cleft in the rock like the old hymn, but certainly a cleft in the shrubs. There was room for both of us…85-90-95-100.…we were both safe. We were both free.
“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.”Charles de lint
Now that I am almost fully vaccinated the chances of me contracting the virus are small and the chances of getting serious illness and dying are almost nil, but the jury is still out regarding whether or not I can spread the disease to others. I have found my place of refuge, but many family members and friends remain unprotected. Strangers on the street or pushing carts down the aisles of the grocery store are still desperately seeking the safety that I have found. So until they can tag home without being caught I continue to wear my mask, wash, sanitize and remain socially distant.
“If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.”Will Smith
Yes, I do what I can to keep others safe, but I didn’t reach this safe harbor, where I’m presently mooring my boat, completely on my own. This past year there were unnamed others taking risks…leaning out…to keep me safe. When the threat was high, others collected and delivered groceries right to my door. The mail carrier, those who provide my WiFi service, the truck drivers for UPS and Fed Ex, the magicians that keep Zoom working, and the myriad strangers who masked-up have all made it possible for me to remain behind the lines in this battle.
For me, continuing to wear the mask is simply an act of gratitude, compassion, and reciprocity. Yet, I am often overcome with an almost overwhelming feeling of connection and grace when I see others wearing masks too. It is something we do for each other. It is truly a physical manifestation of love, hope, and kindness.
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”Scott Adams
On the other hand, we’re all sick of wearing these darn things and are really ready to go maskless again, even as we acknowledge that the game’s not quite over and that this isn’t the time to give them the ol’ heave-ho. 75, 80, 85, 90. After all, no one wants to be tagged out in the final minutes of the game.
A couple years ago, on a trip with my friend, Anne, we found ourselves in a small Alsatian village often frequented by tourists…which of course we were at the time. At my suggestion, we ventured into a Kathe Wohlfahrt shop. I wanted a closer look at some of the Erzgebirge folk art I had seen in the window. Inside it was jam-packed with Christmas decorations and all things German. I suppose we could have turned around and walked back out after the first quick look from the door, but once inside it was too late. We soon discovered that the store had been set up in such a way that forced patrons to wend their way past all the displays on a winding path through the entire store. Bad choice on my part. Sorry, Anne. We could only move as fast as the people in front of us and the option of a retreat was negated by the people behind us. There was no other way out, but to go through the entire store.
“Lord, how long? As long as it takes to get me there. Going down to go up, Approaching heaven via hell, No other way. The only way out is through.”Kathy Fuson Hurt, The Way Out
Until all of us have received the gift of hope in a syringe, the only real way out of this pandemic is to keep moving forward, moving through what lies ahead, providing safety for those still waiting, and avoiding “it” until we can all tag home together.
So…In case you were wondering, I’m still masking up.