Yesterday was a great blue ribbon kind of day. Allow me first to reiterate my feelings about wearing a face mask. I hate it. Not – I really don’t like it very well, or I wish I didn’t have to wear one, but I understand, or even I understand the importance of it from a medical standpoint, and will be a good citizen and good player… I hate it. I have hated wearing those stupid things since the first time I had to put one on. I know Cheri is a nurse practitioner and wears a mask from 7:15 in the morning, until she leaves a little after 5pm. There have been times as we have been driving home that I will glance at her, and then have to tell her that she can actually take the mask off, since she is now 2 miles away from work.
I haven’t gone to a real restaurant in 14 months. That is, if you don’t count Grannie’s restaurant in Grafton, where people stopped wearing masks about 6 months ago. I haven’t shopped in a retail store since a year ago last March. Often, if I have driven with Cheri to a place like Hobby Lobby or her favorite women’s store, I have sat very satisfied in the car, waiting for her to do whatever shopping she needs to do. The only traveling we have done out of town is to visit Cheri’s mom. After years of spending probably half my time in South Dakota at different churches, or in meetings, since last March, I haven’t driven south of our interstate exit.
The one place where I haven’t been able to get around the stupid mask thing is the grocery store. I am usually the one who buys the groceries, since I’m usually the one who cooks, so that has meant I have had to strap on what I call “the suffocater” before entering the store. The usual shopping that I have enjoyed for many years – of looking to see if there were something new or interesting to try – simply went out the window, and for months I have gone up and down aisles, grabbing what we needed from the pre-written list, and as quick as possible, checked out, gotten outside, and pulled off the oxygen restrictor, and taken a deep breath of regular air. I have hated every single time having to grocery shop since March of 2020.
Now, I completely understand the concept and purpose of face masks. In a time when we as a nation and as a world family were trying to protect ourselves and others from a brand new kind of virus, many different recommendations and mandates came across. First, you needed to wash your hands frequently, for at least 15-20 seconds, to make sure you had killed the virus germs. Then they found out, of course, that the germs had a very short life on any surface. We all learned a new phrase – social distancing – with an arbitrary 6 feet distance recommended. I remember up here in New Scandinavia, a land where people never “get in your face,” that some were suggesting that 6 feet was “a bit too close, don’t ya tink?” Other studies showed that the virus was able to travel two or three times that far, but we continued to stand on little dots at checkout places, just to be sure. Recently, “they” announced that you could be three feet apart, and be “safe.”
We shut down sporting events, and concerts and graduations and movies and so much more, which always made me wonder – if everyone were wearing a mask, which is supposed to keep us all safe, why would we not be able to gather in groups? That dang mask apparently was to be a saving act for the world, to the point that “they” said we should wear two masks (so as to completely cut off the flow of oxygen to our brains?) So we still can’t hug, or shake hands, or sound like when we speak, we are not actually talking with a pillow on our mouths.
We quarantined, and went for walks but stayed yards away from each other. I still recall driving on one of our busy streets, and watching a lady walk toward two other people walking their dog on the sidewalk, and suddenly she veered to the right, and ended up walking in the busy street for a good 20 yards before coming back and walking on the sidewalk again. Of course, she must not have noticed the good five acres of open field on her left, where actually no cars would have had to screech and swerve from hitting her…
Then it happened that the shots were ready to be poked in our arms. A real game changer, for sure, and our family complied early on, and believed what “they” said that with the complete vaccination, you would be 96-99% invulnerable to the disease. What a great day, and a great turn of events. Yet, every time I went to the grocery store, for four months after getting the shots, I still had to wear a mask! Now, I’m not a rebel, but I’m also not stupid… if getting the shot meant that you were no longer able to become infected, nor infect anyone else, then it made no sense to have to go about doing all those things that we had done over the past year to keep from having happen what the shots now would keep from happening. The word came out that the vaccinated folks need to help protect the unvaccinated persons. Now, not to be stinky about this, but it sure seems that if someone needs protection from the virus, they should get the shots. Either that, or stay home indefinitely, or risk being infected by the minority of folks who also haven’t had the shot, or refuse to get it for one superstition or another. I know this is a deadly horrible virus, but so was smallpox and polio and tetanus and many other plagues in our time. The best answer has always been to find a vaccine that renders the virus irrelevant. It has never been the practice to just wear masks and wash your hands and break down social interaction for the rest of your lives. When the vaccine is available – shoot everyone, and if someone says no, then we respect their wishes, but it then becomes their risk, and the rest of the community should be free to move on with their lives.
Ok, after this way-too-long rant about our life these past months, I come back to the blue-ribbon day. I had to go to the bank, and actually go into the lobby. I walked up to the door, and oddly, the big red sign that said, “Wear a mask or don’t come in” was gone. I walked through the doors, and saw that the tellers were all mask free, and I was too. I did my business, and then I had to go to Cash Wise, our grocery store, to pick up a couple of things. I put on my mask in my car as usual, and then walked up to their front door. Their mask sign had also changed. It said, “We follow the CDC guidelines – if you have been vaccinated, feel free to shop without a mask. If you haven’t been vaccinated, beside being really dumb, you need to keep wearing your mask until you come to your senses.” (It really wasn’t worded like that – it would have been if I had written it!) So, with a smile on my face that everyone could see, I walked into the store, got my stuff, and even looked around a little, and then checked out and walked to my car, no longer oxygen restricted, and no longer part of a pandemic.
I am really aware of how this horrible disease remains rampant in much of our world, and is destroying lives and families at a terrible rate. I do hope our countries can come together and provide the resources to vaccinate those places and kill that virus off as quickly as possible. For me, however, I give thanks to God that somehow I was born and raised in this country, and that even with the change of political administrations, the good work begun in one has been continued in the second, and today, my family lives safer, and happier as a result. I pray for you and your family as well, and encourage you to do whatever you can to be as safe, and together kill off this thing as soon as possible. Blessings.
Word for the day: mainprise. Pronounced MAIN-prize. It’s actually an old Anglo-Saxon law term. When someone was arrested, and arraigned in court, a date would be set for the trial. In the meantime, the court could direct the sheriff to “take sureties,” or promises or pledges or oaths, that the accused prisoner would assure the court to be back for trial, and upon getting that assurance, the prisoner would be free for that period of time. It sounds, from reading the definitions, that it didn’t include “bail,” which is the actually presenting of money that will be held to make sure the individual comes back for trial. “Bail” is actually from the Latin baiulare, which means “to bear a burden.” An individual bears a financial risk to ensure that the accused will come back for trial. So one of the words deals with actual money set aside; the other takes a promise, usually by a third party, that the prisoner will be produced when the time comes. Both carry risks. Better to not get arrested in the first place…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.