The mask is stiff, uncomfortable. My reaction is to adjust the nose piece, re-align the ear bands and to continually push the mask up…always up as it effortlessly slips down my face. I take it off and put it back on unconsciously. It irritates my skin, and I find myself losing patience with the mask, meant to protect me from the unseen agents in the air that can affect my breathing, my well-being, ultimately even my life. I don’t think enough about it protecting others from my coughing, my sneezing or even my potentially infected exhaled breath. The mask is simply a nuisance. Besides, it’s always fogging up my glasses. Oh, Lord, grant me the awareness of the needs of people around me. Help me to be less obnoxious and self-centered, and more caring and more sensitive; less concerned about my need for comfort and more about comforting others. Use our intellect and skills and spirits to nurture one another, to inspire and promote hope. We need it badly, and you know that much better than any of us.
If I wash my hands one more time today I just sense there will be permanent damage done to my skin. They’re raw from rubbing and rubbing ten times, fifteen times…maybe even twenty times a day. I’m exhausted from singing Happy Birthday for twenty seconds each wash. I know it’s taking a toll as I’m beginning to dislike that melody. A nurse even educated me to wash up past my wrists. Doesn’t she realize that I’ll get my shirt cuffs wet if I did that? To use sanitizing gel or foam in between scrubs is helpful, I know that, but oftentimes it stings when applied to the skin, which is already irritated and sore. Moreover, used frequently, it cakes on my hands and they feel numb and stiff and yucky. Perhaps I can ignore the need…just once, I tell myself. Who will ever know? You will know, Oh, Lord. You are aware of my comings and goings, whether I’m honest or deceitful. You hear my sincere cries of suffering, yet you are patient, waiting for the invitation to intercede to provide help, reassurance, and strength. I am reminded that on you I can lean, and find solace from my doubts. You are gracious and forgiving.
Six feet we’re told; to maintain a safe ‘social distancing.’ No more hugs. No more touching of hands. It goes against our natural instincts. We get close then realize we must move away. So now we encourage with words from unseen mouths or with compassionate eyes straining over the rim of our yellow masks to convey sentiments and feelings and thoughts. We are aliens in a transient world, frustrated by the demands of trying to adapt to a changing landscape. I painfully observe the tears of a man cascade from his eyes down behind the shield of protection as he sits with his dying wife. He tells her that he loves her, and I hear the voice but cannot see the mouth and lips that spoke the words.
Did he really say what I thought I heard? I so want to tell him to remove the mask, to kiss her forehead, to stroke her hair, but I am restrained as I’ve been taught. “When will this craziness end?” I ask myself. My spirit, dear Lord, is bruised from all the pain, the hurt, and suffering surrounding me. I am overwhelmed with grief, and anger, and frustration. Your radiant face I long to touch. Your encouraging words I seek to calm the storms of fear. Your Spirit I search as an infusion of grace, and mercy and love. Above all, I listen to your
still small voice…“Be still, and know that I am God.”