Back in March, Sandra Smith submitted the very first reflection posted on the cathedral website on the events that were then rapidly unfolding, from her perspective as an immune-compromised person. Now, three months later, she has submitted the following thoughts about the current situation.
I believe all people in our human community do matter, especially the vulnerable and oppressed. We must keep ourselves safe. For people who don’t chose to mask, I have felt righteous indignation with my inner bully/tyrant rising up with anger because my health is threatened. I don’t want to be a bully nor a tyrant nor do I want to hate others whose values and behaviors are different than my own. I want to disarm myself, and ask God’s grace to diminish threats, save all of us, God’s people, and help me to truly walk in love, literally.
So, I walked for exercise with my neighbor. We were masked and maintained 6 feet social distancing from each other. As the months continued, I noticed people on my walk who didn’t wear their masks and it worried me; I felt threatened by their choice as they approached on the street. It surprised me how much woeful energy I felt as I encountered the unmasked. I wondered, why such a threat?
Having walked along a busy street for my daily walk, I felt a slow crescendo of anxiety, both my own and others’. After stepping aside from my frustration and fear, I took time to reflect and realized that I want others to behave in a way that protects me. After all, I wear a mask to protect them. Didn’t they have the desire to protect others, like me?
Then I looked deeper and realized that I had a part in this. Perhaps my need to control the masking behavior of others only increased my frustration. Stepping back from my worldview of what compassionate life may look like, it had now become time for me to admit again, that I only have power over my own behavior and actions. I began to consider the question a very wise woman said, “what can I do differently?”
So, my walking buddy and I chose after Easter Monday to walk a new less busy route while reflecting on a scripture passage each of us brings to the walk, maintaining our six-foot distance between ourselves and the fewer unmasked anxious others we encountered. I avoided the nearby unmasked contractor who was consistently not adhering to the Governor’s directive for him to be masked. As he continued in his illegal neglect, I calmly and firmly wrote to my condo neighbors that the behavior of this unmasked contractor was unacceptable. I asked what does he not understand and why? He is now abiding and masked. I also acknowledge the passing joggers’ rights as equal to my right to be outside and avoid or face away from them as they pass quickly to protect myself.
I try to let go of what is not mine to do responsibly. I don’t want to act in a tyrannical way to any of my neighbors. I fervently want to express my needs in a firm and loving way. I ask God to help me walk in love which is hard to do. I pray that I can continue to choose to do the best I can. God bless you in your journey with the unmasked. Be Safe. Let us pray for one another. Amen.