Sunday 26 July 2020

Church, a stranger place to mask

We are in strange times

This morning as I was choosing what to wear, it came to a choice of one of three jackets. Earlier in the shower, I thought of how things had changed, like the last time I wore a suit and tie to work was the 13th of November last year which was the last day of bookable time on my last contract before I considered doing other things.
Two weeks of courses, then tests, a month in South Africa, illness in late January that left me without strength for weeks, a time of relentless job seeking that fell into the onset of the pandemic and now coming to three months of living at work from home.
None of this has required my usual work attire formality, the obligatory shirt and no playing the mermaid with a hidden fishtail below the waist. You have to dress well enough just in case the need for you to get up during a video conference does not lead to revelatory surprises you’ll rather keep to yourself.
Mask hands sanitise repeat
When I chose a jacket, it had in the inner breast pocket the printed out church ticket booked for the 5th of July, meaning this was the fourth service I was attending after the gentle easing of the lockdown restrictions, or so I thought. We had already gotten used to social distance seating, sitting through the service, no hymn singing, the sacrament of the bread without the wine and desired prompt egress of the building after the service. We were settling into a pattern of sorts.
Leaving home, I was already in sight of the church when I realised, I had left my phone at home, it had the app with my ticket to attend the Sung Eucharist. Thankfully, the usher had a list of booked visitors and he recognised me by name. However, as I was entering the church I was asked if I had a face mask as a new directive had come from the upper church hierarchy requiring, we wear masks, not compulsorily, but necessarily.
Along with that came other instructions, for as we were wearing masks we were in danger of cross-contamination or infection if we touched our masks. We were advised to keep our masks on through the service and when coming for communion we should be in single file sanitising our hands after removing the mask, receiving the host, putting the mask back on and repeating the hand sanitisation.
All consolation in God
It all looked quite laboured to me as I debated whether I wanted to venture cane in hand, and every other thing. In the end, I decided otherwise, partly because whilst I endured an hour of being masked, I probably was not getting enough oxygen into my system that I was yawning more frequently as I was tiring out too. It was best I stayed in my seat for the whole service and once able after the service and outside, take the mask off.
Most of the attendees were good sports and also without the encumbrances that I felt I had, and the president was quite appreciative of everyone’s consideration. We are not sure of what the new normal would be, and between endurance and resistance, we would have to find a sense of convenience through these times.
For according to the reading of scripture today, of the many thoughts that occupy our minds, we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. This shall pass.

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