I spend the morning mostly alone in my office at church,
where I type, read a commentary in preparation for the Sunday sermon, answer emails, and participate in a mercifully short Zoom meeting. The time passes quickly. I have a couple of cups of coffee which springs me from the solitary confinement of my office, but I don’t have any contact with others. The building is almost empty. And even if the office had other denizens present, we are mostly holed up in our caves when on site. The noon hour comes and I head home for lunch. It is not until I hit the bathroom upon arriving home, and glance at the mirror in passing, that I see what you see in the picture that heads this devotion. I’ve been wearing my mask around my chin for pretty much the entire morning … and didn’t even know it. Had I crossed paths with someone, habit would have brought my hands to my neck to pull up my mask … and I would have remembered my “beard-mask.” But I crossed no one’s path.
My masks have become such a part of my daily routines, that I have (in some ways) acculturated myself to them. Once or twice in recent weeks I have spent a couple of minutes looking for my mask … not sure where I left it … only to eventually realize that it was around my chin. Masks are a part of life for me at the moment, as they may be for you. I’m not sure I love that statement … but it is true.
And it reminds me that human beings are built to adapt. Admittedly, we crave our routines and our patterns … the roads you drive to work … the pumpkin spice latte you get every morning at Starbucks … the recliner from which you watch the Eagles’ game most Sundays. But sometimes we also adapt to routines that we would have never chosen for ourselves. Masks are one of those routines. You may resent them … you may find them cumbersome … you may long for the day when you no longer have to wear them. But you acknowledge that by wearing them, you are protecting all those random people (most of whom are strangers), and inviting them by your mask-wearing model, to protect you, too.
Now I’m gonna be a little cheesy and call this practice, Covid Discipleship. Yes, I will propose to you that you are serving as a disciple, which is most simply translated as a “follower.” When you wear a mask, you are following the advice of our best medical minds, and doing so for the good of others. You are following routines that provide some consistent routine for your life. And I would suggest, that you are following in the spirit of our Creator God who loves the life that Creator has fashioned, and has called you to help preserve and protect that life.
There you have it … Covid masks as talismans of our Shepherding God … Covid masks as St. Michael’s shields of protection against the airborne evils of the world … Covid masks as a mark of discipleship in this virus-ridden world. God didn’t promise ease and comfort in the journey of discipleship. No, God promised satisfaction in the calling and commitment to make the world a better and holier place.