Finding New Balance
How’s facemask life rolling for you? If you have glasses, have you found the sweet spot where you can actually exhale and not have to wait until you de-fog? Has it become a habit? They say it takes upward of 30-45 days of regular action for something to become habitual. I find it shorter for say, nacho cheese dorito consumption. But regular life stuff I think it’s probably true. Facemask whininess is a thing – and yes, I resemble that remark. And when my frustration at fogginess, or claustrophobia, or limitation of hearing completely what others wearing masks are saying, I remind myself of the medical folks whose faces are bruised and nose skin is rubbed raw by wearing the PPE everyday. They would be grateful to trade the intensity of the N95’s that they sometimes can’t get enough of, for a stylish cloth kind that provides general safety to others around us as opposed to needing it to save our own lives.
It’s easy to lose perspective in this weirdness. Do you have a number in mind? You know . . . of how many lives lost are acceptable to regain a “normal” life? Numbers are simply numbers until one of them is “our” family member or “our” self I think. Which one of my family members would I be o.k. having on a ventilator without me being able to be by their side? How about for you? The only answer I have to that is me, that somehow it would feel better if one of my family had to get sick and enter the hospital, I’d rather have it be me, so I wouldn’t be on the outside not able to do anything to help. It’s pretty easy to be cavalier and just decide this is one of those chapters in history for survival of the fittest. Let’s just go out in herds without masks or social distance and live and let die. Are you thinking about the theme music to one of the James Bond movies now? I’m sure there’s a social media channel where you can binge-watch all the James Bond movies. The Live and Let Die one was back in the days of Roger Moore’s version of 007. I’m a Sean Connery fan, he’s aged quite well in my opinion. Maybe aging well or not can cease to be a worry for some of us given this virus. I mean we’re all going to die of something sometime, why not a virus in 2020ish depending on when and if a vaccine?
O.k. so you all know that is not me. I can’t even, I just can’t. I want people to struggle with aging well or not so much. I want to talk to my family members who have lived longer than me and learn enough to maybe not make the same mistakes in the same way. I had grandparents born in the first decade of the 1900’s that are gone now – how much would I love to still have them here to ask what coming out of the Pandemic in 1918 was like and what they did to survive without social media platforms and the interwebs. How did they hold on to their faith when their churches didn’t meet for such long times? How did it change their perspectives on life and the world and their expectations of each other? Then 11 years later they would experience the dust bowl and the Great Depression, were they better prepared for that because they had survived the Flu Pandemic of 1918? Or was it just salt in the wound, when it rains it pours, don’t become to settled because another shoe is likely to drop? Then 11 or so years later Pearl Harbor, WW II, the Holocaust, and ultimately the Atomic bombs. Do we really want to say that folks in their aging years who have lived through more life than all those younger don’t have the same value because they are not the same cog in the wheels of production and consumption? So if they are more likely to get and die with this virus, well, so be it. Maybe those with genetically more vulnerable conditions weren’t meant to survive in the first place??? Is that really who we are?
Now you know the balance of this one pastor’s thinking in terms of how and when we come back to in-person worship. My life has been immeasurably enhanced by those who have gone through life before me who I have had and still have the chance to know. I’m not willing to give them up so easily. I KNOW we cannot hermetically seal all of us in hygienically manufactured suits to have no risk. I simply want to mitigate the risk with wise and balanced thinking and make our decisions factually, not out of fear or frustration or exhaustion that things aren’t the way we want them to be on the timeline that works best for us whether it does for anyone else or not.
WE WILL HAVE IN-PERSON WORSHIP AGAIN. We are planning for it even now, even when we don’t yet know what that “magic” date of opening will be. FYI, it is NOT a government decision for this pastor. That is one piece of information, the CDC is another, the state and local health depts. another, the reported cases/deaths/trending statistics another, the ongoing development of how this affecting children another, and frankly, the common sense and reasoning ability God gave us another. We will create safety measures and all the details and processes and systems – and I know there will still be risk. Those who are adults can and will decide for themselves their own limits of exposure they are willing to take for themselves and for their children. My prayer is that we will love others as we love ourselves and be willing to take safety measures for those around us even if we feel rather invincible with age and strength of health status for ourselves.
I kind of look at being 58 years old like I looked at the admonition our mission guides gave us when on a mission trip in Costa Rica and visiting the ocean. They suggested to us that the sharks came toward shore at 3 in the afternoon. I wondered in that moment, does that mean we were safe at 2:58??? Sharks seriously know how to tell time exactly each day? What about Daylight Savings Time (probly non-existent in Costa Rica but still)??? What if one woke up earlier than usual on a particular day and became hungrier a half hour earlier than normal??? 58 means I’m not at risk – ‘cuz you know I’m not 60!!! And besides, I grew up on a farm eating grass-fed beef. I’m of hearty stock and have a nice extra inch or two of protection around my vital organs (doritos/chester cheese corn?) – so that makes me impervious, right? How about this . . . I wear a mask for you, and you wear a mask for me, and we all wear masks for our chronologically gifted, our vulnerable folks with pre-existing conditions or who are on chemo. or other immunosuppressing medications, or now it seems, also to protect our children and youth?
Please know clergy of every denomination and persuasion and religious system all over this country are talking about how and when to come back to in-person worship. And yes, some have started already and some may not come back at all. I will be listening to a national webinar on Thursday about this very subject which will include credible medical professionals, leaders from the CDC, and reputable religious leaders from differing judicatories – no governors or mayors. Following that is a zoom discussion from clergy across the K.C. metro area on both sides of the state line. Those are both simply expanded sources of information for us to consider along with the Lay, clergy, and staff leadership at Grace.
On-line worship will continue to happen for and from Grace without stop. When we are back in-person, on-line will continue to be an option for those who may be experiencing illness or symptoms of any kind or for whom being in large gatherings, even with safety measures in place, is not a healthy option. We have NO DATE SET for when we will come back in-person but we are working for our readiness whenever that can happen.
I’m not sure what God was thinking when God decided that loving God and loving each other as ourselves was the way to go. It would be so much easier and waaaaay less messy if that wasn’t the case! If I didn’t care what happens to you and you didn’t care what happens to me, these decisions would be a snap. However, I flat out trust that God knows what God is doing with this whole love your neighbor as yourself deal, so . . . I intend on continuing to do that even when it’s hard and we are all frustrated and disagreeing and maybe even disagreeable. snort I resemble that remark now and again and sometimes more now than again.
Preaching to an empty room, or an isolated pond, or an old youth meeting room, or in my house, is not what I ever imagined as a possibility, but here we are. The privilege of having social media is one I do not take lightly, and my gratefulness to those who know how to make it work continues. We are looking at another safe step forward at the end of May and beginning of June. News about that will come out next week! Please hang on to the faith that God has created within each of our hearts, minds, and spirits! That faith that engages us in the struggle of how best to love others as ourselves, even when it requires sacrifice.
Chandler has interspersed this blog with the various masks I’m using on different days depending on my mood and the setting. That’s how I’m choosing to survive the mask-wearing and my concerted attempts not to be too whiny about it. The blue clinical one was in with my painting supplies, the polka-dot one came from my seester, the light green paisley one from my friend Rebecca Emley, black one is from my old snow-skiing days, and the purple bandana is my OWN creation from the video on youtube! (NOT the one I’ve included below!)
I want to keep knowing people of every generation and I want to work together for the mitigation of this virus until it is eradicated. Hang in there! We will worship together in-person again and until then, we will do this messy and sometimes irritating job of loving God and loving others in this particular mask-wearing moment of history.
This video below made me laugh – only because I CANNOT sew, and this would so (couldn’t resist) be me!