While sitting in the food court at the mall today, my heart suddenly started racing. My attention had been captured by an adult man standing there all alone. He held up his phone as if videoing. Or maybe he was FaceTiming and showing someone the surroundings? His eyes scanned the eating area, but his body stayed in place. Why isn’t he moving? Why isn’t he sitting down? Ordering food? Something?! What is he doing? Minutes ticked by. Was that hand motion a signal to someone? I looked around for an accomplice but saw no one obvious. What is he waiting for? Why does he just keep standing there? Immediately I thought a shooting was imminent. What would I do? Where would I hide? How could I protect my kids? Suddenly self-aware, I realized this whole time I had been ignoring my two daughters with me. I wasn’t talking or even making eye-contact. I was consumed with this suspicious stranger. We’ve all seen media report on mall shootings. They happen. Who’s to say this man isn’t about to open fire or communicate to someone else to do so? I was so internally afraid I considered stopping the girls mid-lunch and leaving the premises.
We live in a world of risk. Constantly. Mall shootings. Car accidents. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Heart attacks. They all happen. And so do viruses.
Last night when my news source (i.e. my husband) informed me that the CDC is now recommending that fully vaccinated people start wearing masks again, I couldn’t believe it. It seems there is zero end date now. Following the CDC’s July 27 update, a mask mandate for the public school system in my area is now in effect for the upcoming school year. Yesterday I also received an email from my piano teacher that she will wear a face mask, though she is fully vaccinated. Our house cleaners showed up today with masks back on.
Maybe some people are fine with seeing everyone all covered up, but I personally have been negatively impacted in spirit. It took me six months before I adjusted to going to the store and seeing people in masks. It weighed on me heavily for half a year. My fear of going back to church was not of catching the virus but fear of the disheartening sight of members in masks and staying six feet away from me. Do you know how good it has been for my spirit the past few weeks to feel like life was actually going back to normal? To go to Minnesota and spend a week in a small town and never see a mask on anyone. To go to California for a week and go everywhere without a mask. Do you know how happy that has made me? Have you not tasted that sweetness yourself?
Do we really want to return to everyone wearing masks indefinitely? How many in the world will consequently be infected with a heavy heart? Have we forgotten the risk of riding in a car? Flying a plane? Having a baby? Eating lunch in a mall food court? Have we forgotten that we will die? Have we forgotten how to have courage and just go live for as many days as God has appointed us? When will we as a society learn to accept and live with the risk of this virus?