May 27, 2020
I went to the doctor this morning for my annual physical. I am happy to report that since Covid-19 locked us all inside our homes for the last three months I’ve only gained 15 pounds! I mean, it feels like 30 but I’ll take the doctor’s scale!
It was kind of a surreal experience. Everyone wearing masks, extra hand sanitizer everywhere. The window at the check-in/out counter was closed and only cracked open when I needed to talk to the scheduler. I was wearing a mask. The doc was wearing a mask. It felt…odd…like it was some kind of out of body experience. It doesn’t help that my glasses fog up with every breath and I don’t have any depth perception. The whole thing made me feel, for the first time, distant and separate.
As I was leaving my appointment the doc looked back and said “stay safe!” It was a kind of blessing. It wasn’t her normal exercise and keep active speech I get at every appointment. There was something more desperate to it. She isn’t the first person I’ve heard this from. I’ve even found myself saying it to people at the check out in the grocery store and to patients and families alike. I think this has become our new mantra, a new “Bless You” for a new world.
Fear of this pandemic and being exposed to Covid-19 has affected us all in ways we will be discovering for years to come. How we do our work, our shopping, our daily living, has changed and will be different for a long time. Culture wars are breaking out over when and where and if we should wear a mask. People are scared. People are going broke and losing everything. People are sick. People are dying. The world around us has become a broken and fearful place.
So when I hear my doctor and others bless me with this simple phrase I feel a connection to something bigger than myself. It’s a connection that reminds me that we are all at risk of losing everything. We are all at risk of being exposed to a deadly virus. We are all at risk of hurting or being hurt. So the exhortation to “stay safe” is a sort of modern blessing, a prayer if you will, invoking the love of neighbor and kin alike, to overcome a great adversity.
Sayings like these are how we southerners speak words of love. They come in many forms: “have you eaten yet?” “how’s your momma and them?” “y’all be careful” “Call me when you get home” “Here, take a plate home with you” “Y’all be good” All ways of blessing each other with love . All ways of demanding the world around us bend itself towards love.
Love like this is indeed a blessing. It’s the kind of love that goes beyond culture, beyond creed, beyond all that defines us as in or out, beyond all that identifies or labels. It’s an inclusive love that demands as much as it hopes: “Stay Safe!”
The hardness and difficulty we encounter feels a little less heavy when it’s been blessed by love. When we bless each other with love we empower one another to bear our burdens with steeled resolved. Everything we carry within us grows lighter when blessed, when seen, when acknowledged by others. We are reminding each other that every challenge or difficulty is not born alone but by the whole community.
So stay safe, dear heart! Stay safe by doing whatever it takes to care for yourself, for your loved ones, for your neighbors, for strangers. Have a common good in mind. Work toward this goal of safety for everyone. Stay Safe!
Love and Light!