Shutdown Week 5: Masks Unseen

Shutdown Week 5: Masks Unseen

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. 

Hard Truth: 50% of the People You Meet Don’t Like You.

50% of the people you meet don’t like you.

Huh?

Yeah, that’s right. And guess what? 50% of the people you meet you don’t like.

But I like everybody and everybody likes me.

Nope. They don’t. You don’t.

The lady at church in St. John’s knit, pearls and Ferragamo flats? Does she ever say hello? How about the guy who leads the meditation group? He preaches mindfulnesss but stops short when it’s time to tune in to you.

And you? Do you really like the lady in the lunch group with her pinched red lips that never stop moving?

Ok. Ok. But 50%? I think I like 75% and 75% like me.

No. They. Don’t.

The truth of it? The guy in the park who stands up and gives you his seat? He hugs you just so he can feel your boobs. You hate that but you’re nice to him ‘cause you think he likes you.

Get it?

Next Time, Call 311

From: Regan Burke
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2018
To: Xxxxxx Xxxxxxx, Church Administrator
Subject: Snow Removal?

Xxxxx: Today I was slipping and sliding with other passers-by on the sidewalk in front of the church. A woman fell and as people were helping her up there was grumbling about the sidewalk not being shoveled. Someone said, “figures, it’s a church.”

The sidewalks are often not shoveled by the time a lot of us get to our exercise class at 10:30. And, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, a lot of us are not as sure-footed as we’d like to be which makes getting to class when it snows a bit more treacherous.

Please do everything you can to get the sidewalks cleaned and salted (black ice!) around the church as soon as you can in the morning.

And perhaps there could be a line-item in the next budget for “good neighborliness” which would include shoveling and salting or sanding the snow and ice from the sidewalks around the church?

__________________________________

From: Xxxxx Xxxxxxx
To: Regan Burke

Regan: Thank you for your note related to snow removal.

As I’m sure you know, the church was closed yesterday in observance of MLK Day. Sidewalks were cleared early this morning. We’ll continue to attend to snow removal diligently and and thoroughly – as always.

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Internet photo example

Your use of the image below from the Daily Mail of an unfortunate woman taking a fall in Manhattan to suggest a Xxxxxx Church circumstance seems odd – to say the least.

________________________________

From: Regan Burke
To: Xxxxx Xxxxxxx

Dear Xxxxx: The photo is a example of what many of us who come to class are afraid of when approaching the church in the winter. Indeed there are people who don’t come to class when it snows because the sidewalks around the church have historically and notoriously been and continue to be treacherous. In other words, this is not a new problem and it’s a big problem, not just to us but to our neighbors as well. I doubt our neighbors understand why when the church is closed we don’t clean our sidewalks. I don’t understand that myself.

When I came to church at 10:15am today the sidewalk at the side entrance had not been touched. This is the accessible entrance for many of us who come to class on the bus or walk. So the snow was not in fact “removed early this morning” at that entrance.

I walked around the church this afternoon and the sidewalks on two streets, tho they were shoveled in the morning, were far from safe – the salt made them slushy and slippery. Did you take a walk around yourself?

The City of Chicago says: “Many people rely on walking and transit as their primary way to get around, and without a wide, clear path through snow and ice, it is especially difficult for people with disabilities, seniors, and children to walk safely.”

According to the Municipal Code of Chicago property owners and occupants are responsible for keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice. Can we not, as a church, not only adhere to city ordinances, but be actively compassionate when it comes to our friends and neighbors especially “people with disabilities, seniors and children”?

________________________________________

From: Xxxxx Xxxxxxx
To: Regan Burke

Regan:

Yes, I did walk the perimeter of the building early today. I don’t agree with your assessment at all.

As my note below says, we’ll continue to attend to snow removal diligently and thoroughly — as always.

♦♦♦