Wet Mask

I’m wearing a wet mask…

Four months.  Four months since I’ve seen some of these faces except through a screen and now I only get to see half of their faces.  From 6 feet away.  Every other pew.

Yes, I went to church.  I was excited all week in anticipation, but I was unprepared for the barrage of emotions I would experience.  I knew the provisions our leadership had outlined and I understand them.  I see the wisdom in them.  I agree with them.

But I do not like them.

When you sing with a mask on,  you are protecting those in the room.  You are loving them. But with every inhale before the next line, the mask plasters across your mouth differently than just walking through the grocery store. It’s a constant reminder that the voices around you are muffled.

When you look across a sanctuary that is usually packed with people and see empty rows and small clusters separated, it feels empty.

When you stand a distance from people you are used to hugging and joy fills your heart just to be with them, your arms ache from not reaching out.  If I’m being honest (and I have been told I’m painfully honest), I have hugged a handful of those people in the last month.  We stood and looked at each other, both yearning to do it again, but knowing that we needed to be respectful of the venue and situation.

I don’t know if I have ever felt so many conflicting emotions in the course of one hour.  The music flooded and calmed my soul and the words fed my spirit in a way that is different than worshiping with my family in my living room.  We’ve had many rich weeks of being together in our home and watching the service (sometimes in our pjs), but being together with others in my church family as we approach the very throne of God in worship has a different dynamic.  I cherished it in a new way.

I was so overcome.

I stood there with my mask sucking in with each breath and wishing I could hear the voices around me as God’s spirit washed over me and tears streamed.  But they didn’t stream down my face.  They were stopped by my mask and by the end, my mask was wet.

Just so wet.

I felt such fullness and such emptiness in the same moment.  Such gratitude and such frustration.  Such joy and such sadness.

But I did find one benefit of being in that situation with a mask on….no one could see that I had been ugly-crying.  All that blotchiness was hidden away by a wet mask.

Thankful but yearning,

Heather Smith

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