You know, if you would have told me a year ago, maybe even six months ago that it would be a common place occurrence to see most of the people you pass on the street wearing masks, I wouldn't have believed you. And yet it’s happened. And what’s really odd to me, but true, is that now there is an expectation for each and every one of us to be masked.
How quickly the world can turn on its head. How quickly what was up can become down, and what was down seems to just stay there. How quickly we somehow have adjusted to this new world. But I wonder… Do you know in what ways we have adjusted? Is this how we now imagine our world to be? How have we shifted so quickly to this new world, this new normal?
More than ever I am mindful now of how much it means to me to look people in the eyes. Now that we are masked, I am mindful of looking for some kind of expression, some kind of human contact. Now that our expressions are hidden from one another, it matters to me to pay attention to another person's eyes.
I think we owe it to one another to be mindful of what might be hidden behind the mask. I think it would be a great and significant act of kindness, for us to not assume anything of one another in these masked days. Is the person behind the mask afraid? Is the person behind the mask lonely? Is the person behind the mask grieving?
This is new territory for us. These Pandemic days seem to have moving borders and boundaries. These masks sometimes embody for me those boundaries. These Pandemic days have brought new mores and a new everyday language: COVID. Isolation. Social distancing. I know the words of social distancing in the dictionary will never have my picture underneath them. I know that I am not wired to isolate.
And I believe that these Pandemic days will not be forever. I believe that this will be a chapter in our lives, possibly one of the hardest, but just a chapter. So, while we are writing this current chapter, I think it’s important to be mindful of making this chapter our own. These are days that will carry their imprint on us quite possibly for the rest of our lives. These are days that are surely our shaping our children. It matters how we are mindful of these days, of one another, and of how we are in them.
For years, I have been holding onto Anne Lamott’s words of seeking kind eyes. Perhaps these words have never been more true or more welcomed. Because today, especially today I want to remember that others just might be seeking my kind eyes. They may not see my whole face, but in these old, weary eyes I hope they see my prayer for them – I hope they see my wish for their good health and well being. I hope they see – behind my mask - my prayer of compassion.