mystery in progress

Church is about as normal as it can be for now. We’ve gone from posting and holding weekly services online, to three hours of continual 15 minute time slots for groups of ten and under, to three services with a group no more than 50, to two services that can hold 75 or under. We still have to call a scheduling company to sign up for whichever service we’re going to. Though not required, we are still being encouraged to wear masks, and most do. We’re not shaking hands or having Sunday School or Bible class.

We are supposed to start singing again next week. I’ve kind of zoned in and out with all the church stuff and changes. At first I was admittedly just happy to stay home and in my pajamas Sunday morning, not missing any of the church pomp and circumstance. I did make everyone dress up for Easter service, to give my daughter a chance to still wear the dress my mother-in-law had bought for her, and also feeling like we should obviously make some kind of special effort toward and acknowledgement of the day.

At some point I started to wonder if in fact I did need to start caring about the church stuff more, not only regarding the state governmental regulations against it, but my continued not being bothered by not going. After the first initial back to church weirdness, I’ve generally been fine and even glad to start going again. Two of the kids forgot their masks this morning, which caused me to quiet-laugh quite hard in the back pew when I looked over and saw them wearing not their usual masks, but wearing the over-sized spare ones that live in the van. I can only blame myself for not making the mask announcement until we were already halfway there.

I’ve been purposeful in avoiding making moral connections to the mask with my kids. I don’t tell them its to protect and show love to our neighbors or to obey our government. One reason is because I am not at all interested in training them to become proficient in judging other people’s behaviors. The 4th commandment in the Lutheran understanding, in its most direct and purified form, is to honor your father and your mother. They wear the masks because that is what their parents, in this unique and continually changing and being navigated situation, are telling them to do right now.

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All joking and serious commandment-talking aside, I’ve been keeping busy with summer stuff, while still keeping an interested eye on the news and a listening ear to other people’s stories. Several weeks ago I was supposed to get together with three high school friends. The friend who was hosting cancelled at the last minute because she’d been notified she’d come into contact with someone who’d come into contact with someone who’d tested positive with the virus and didn’t feel comfortable with possibly exposing us. She was going to get tested and self-quarantine, so we rescheduled.

The rescheduled time was cancelled again, because another friend who works in a hospital said her exposure to virus cases had increased at work. She didn’t feel comfortable getting together and possibly exposing everyone, so we cancelled again. Being interested in the clinical details of things, I asked for more specifics as to what she was seeing. She said it was mostly post-covid patients who were still having symptoms. When the other friend was asked about how her test results turned out, she said she’d never actually received any results and was told that her test had been lost.

The weirdness and general sense of uncertainty continues. So far schools here are scheduled to start in person, though the high school starting date has been moved to the end of August. One of the grade schools plans to have plexi-glass shields on each side of the student desks, which surprised me. I’ve not been too focused on getting things ready for school yet here, but I’ve picked up the usual fresh sets of crayons and packs of colored #2 pencils for the kids. I continue to be in prayer for our country and leaders, my friends and my family, and all being affected, red or blue, big or small.

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