“Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections.”
– Mary Baker Eddy
Shopping at Fred Meyer’s this morning. There was an interesting feeling/atmosphere in there. Kind of edgy. When I went through the checkout I saw one of my old students was doing the bagging – Kayla with the Cheerful Heart. Kayla is ALWAYS smiling, and usually laughing. I found myself smiling just to see her there, working her magic. I asked her (muffled through my mask) how she was doing and she said she and the cashier had been yelled at a lot this morning – I looked over to the cashier and she nodded her head in confirmation. I wondered out loud what was going on with people right now. “It’s Sunday,” I said half to myself, trying to work it out, “Maybe people are just coming from church.” (I’d noticed the church parking lots were full this morning.) Kayla and the checker started laughing out loud, nodding their heads, agreeing that THAT was probably what was happening.
Then Kayla said this was the first day in months she hadn’t worn a mask – she’d been starting to feel sick because she’d had to wear a mask for months on the job and it was making her asthma act up. She said one of the customers had yelled at her for not wearing a mask. The cashier nodded her head – she’d just taken her mask off for a moment to talk to someone when the same customer had started yelling at her, too.
I turned to the guy behind me in line – he wasn’t wearing a mask. I pointed to my smiley masked face and asked him if he could tell I was smiling under my mask. He laughed and said yeah. I asked him if anyone had yelled at him this morning because he wasn’t wearing a mask (probably half the folks in the store weren’t wearing masks today) – and he laughed and said no, he just did “this” (and he showed me a cranky-looking frown) and people mostly avoided him. I started cracking up. I agreed the frown probably worked wonders in those kinds of social “situations.”
My groceries all packed up in paper bags, Kayla and the checker lady – and the unmasked guy behind me – all wished me a good day and I moved on.
As I walked out of the store I started thinking about the whole masked/unmasked thing. I wear a mask when I’m in supermarkets and public places because I figure it’s the least I can do right now to help the folks around me. When I consider what generations before me had to sacrifice as they went through World Wars and the Great Depression a mask doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. BUT I am not going to judge other people’s choices about that. It seems silly, to me, to let masks (or no masks) define people or determine their worth and value.
We’re all dealing with a lot of challenges right now – financial challenges, social isolation, concerns about health and politics. People are stressed. People are scared. And, for some people, fear presents itself as anger, indignation, self-righteousness, judgmentalism, quick tempers and impatience. I’m going to make an effort not to be one of those people – but I’m also going to make an effort to understand and be patient with my fellow humans who find themselves snapping and angry and indignant. It ain’t easy being human. I’m going to trust that we’re all doing the best we can.
If ever there was a time to give each other grace, it is now.