Until the beginning of April, the Center for Disease Control, health departments, doctors, scientists and pundits advised us to wear a mask only if we had symptoms. Then the message changed. We learned there were people with coronavirus who have no symptoms. A cloth face covering is recommended for everyone now to prevent us from giving it to and getting it from each other.

All of a sudden everyone wore a mask. For about ten days. 

On a mid-April Saturday, Henry studied the sudden arrival of daffodils, marking his spot. IMG_1713We’d walked less than a half a block before I breathlessly yanked my homemade mask off. The lightweight cotton had turned into a heat chamber about to asphyxiate me. I wasn’t the only one. Everyone’s mask was askew or nonexistent in the warmer weather. And that was the end of widespread mask use in the neighborhood.

The inconvenience of non-essential work has come upon the privileged. A neighbor can’t get her dishwasher fixed because our building management has deemed it a non-essential repair. I tried to replace a light bulb in the lamp by my reading chair and it broke off, leaving the guts screwed in place and me holding the glass bulb. The maintenance man said “no”.  Even though I played the old lady card, it’s not essential that my aging eyes have light to read. “Watch TV,” he said.

We’re not exactly on Cormac McCarthy’s Road, or settling into deprivation. But ordering groceries online has taken a turn. There are no delivery times available for the old stand-bys. I’m told to “check back later.” The store with the only coffee beans I like isn’t accepting online orders “at this time”. “Check back later” has taken up residence on my computer screen.

My computer screen is where I go to church. It’s livestreamed. Only it’s not exactly live because the preacher last Sunday admitted to recording the sermon. When the artificial worship service came into view the livestream accentuated all the elements of church I despise–the dead symbols, rituals, robes. And then the preacher delivered a walloping good sermon about “thriving in belief”. 

“For now, caring for our neighbor by sheltering in place is believing in the unseen.” he said. 

That’s me. You’re staying home for me. And I you. I believe this unseen selflessness will protect me, and you.

Do I like this virtue being forced on me? Not one bit. I’d rather make my own choice. I know what those protesters are up to. This is America. The government can’t tell us to stay home. It’s the Screwtape Letters in action. The master devil is telling his student to tempt us into saying God is on our side while tricking us into believing only in ourselves. If Granny gets sick and dies, it’s not because we gathered together in church, at a barbecue or a cocktail party. It’s God’s will. 

That’s me, too. Belief in the unseen reveals my secret selfishness and depravity. And it allows me to self-correct, sight unseen, to receive the virtue. I don’t know how that works. I simply thrive in the belief. 

8 thoughts on “Shutdown Week 5: Masks Unseen

  1. Thank you Regan, I love your stories, every one of them, and of course your blond little furball Henry. Im so happy he is your Covid-19 companion.
    At least for me, if there was ever a time to believe in the unseen it is right now. I have to believe that God is in this mix somewhere and that all this suffering, victims, patients, frontliners, people facing workers will mean something significant. Perhaps it is merely to reflect and serve the greater good, to abandon our self-centerdness for a short period of time. I am so proud of MOST of our country, cough cough and you know who you are. It feels like we have come together as a nation to fight the invisible evil in such a short flash of time. Its a difficult concept that the invisible God surely must be “around” especially if you or a loved one has been stuck down. The grim daily news does not help as more and more terrifying complications come to the fore. I often ask God where he/she/it is. When and if I hear, I will let you know. Still, I cherish and need my faith right now however intangible it may be. And, actually there is plenty of visible Godliness that can be seen in the exquisite courage and bravery of our healthcare and frontline heros. God bless them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I went back and forth about that admission of prerecording. In the end, I went with transparency (and terrible lighting). Also, I just read The Road for the first time last week. Probably not a good choice for the moment. Thank you for your insight and your encouragement.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Regan This is the most profound post I’ve read since the start of this extraordinary time. Thank you for your invaluable insights. It’s helped me to better understand my own feelings about doing, and not doing. I appreciated the pastors quote and your deeper contemplation of its meaning to you. Thank you Love ❤️ P

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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