It’s August. It’s hot and there is nothing looming on the horizon but the ordinary tediousness of eating, sleeping cleaning and caring for the ordinary stuff. August feels like a time without season, without salt, without the inspiration that comes with the start of something: dog days indeed.
I’m not depressed. I’m reflecting on the fading of the summer green, the garden, and the lack of luster as people anticipate the beginning of a new school year. Books and sneakers, backpacks and lunchbox don’t hold the promise of hidden moments they once did, because we still have Covid-19 here, lurking behind every moment of unguarded action. Being on alert against germs, against risk, against disease, against spreading others feels a bit like being trapped in Mad Eye Moody’s class hearing his refrain of “Constant vigilance!”
A friend recommended ordering masks in advance and a HEPA air filter, and I have. We’re going to have to be more deliberate, like Dumbledore’s Army, like the Order of the Phoenix to beat this sort of difficulty, this plague that seems to perpetually morph out of containment. We’re going to have to be both pro-active and reactive with others, wearing masks, wiping down, and always erring on the side of charity rather than arrogance about “rightness” of action. We will have some who cannot vaccinate, some who fear to vaccinate, and some who won’t vaccinate. We will mask up to protect them even if they won’t protect themselves.
Their lives matter more than our comfort. Their lives matter more than our preference. This is an opportunity to show we are our neighbors’ keepers, by our love, by our willingness to wear a mask when it is unpleasant and inconvenient. It’s a little thing to offer; it just requires humility of spirit.
So we will wear it to mass. We will wear the masks on masse.
It is a small act against the oppressive ordinariness of the time, of this unique time, when it seems like we will never “get back to normal.” That whine is untrue. Families are doing things, going to movies, having little get togethers, signing up for events and jobs and trips and sacraments and hope. It’s just like in the last post, grace remains always invisible, because it seems like it should be what is, even when it isn’t.
Normal needs to be, we always care about each other. Normal needs to be, we want no one to die. We want no one to be left in a hospital alone, or at home alone. Normal needs to be we see people even when they wear masks, as people first, with loves and hopes and dreams and needs.
Wearing the mask is being the salt. Scheduling the events is providing the hope. Doing what is right even when it is tedious, hard, annoying, hot, and seems like it is without effect or end, is the call of every heart of good will, every heart that loves. It is the invisible necessity of life that allows all life to thrive, it is silent like Saint Joseph, and warm and inviting like the Blessed Mother, calling us to wonder, to joy, even on the hottest and dullest of days and in the poorest and darkest of places.
All this stuff matters even if we don’t know the fullness of it yet.