The Unmasked Bandit

Reflecting on a year of being held hostage

More than a year ago,
we were held up by a bandit.
Ironically, he didn’t wear a mask
but he made us wear one.

Held hostage for more than a year,
we were forced into routines
quite unfamiliar to us.

Virtually everything we knew as normal
became virtual.
Continuing to work without leaving home.
Doing church without being in church.
Being in school without being in school.
Sheltering in place.
Maintaining space.
Reluctantly masking.
Perpetually asking,
“How long, O Lord, how long?”

The kidnapper became a heartless killer.
To date some 600,000 Americans
have died because of the bandit
who violated our sense of innocence.

But through it all we found reasons
to hope and be grateful.
In the midst of being socially distanced
and sheltering in place, we were…

Alone together.
At home in community.
Distanced but not disconnected.
Holed up but not sealed off.
Quarantined but not cut off.
Shut in but not shut out.
Protected but not imprisoned.

There is nothing quite like a crisis
to bring us to our knees.
Pandemics remind us we are not in control
of our own destinies.
If ever there was a time to express gratitude
to the Creator
for the privilege of being alive,
it’s now.

In your own way,
according to your own tradition,
I invite you to verbalize your dependence
on our Creator
and express gratitude for God’s provision
as well as for family and friends
who have helped us maintain our focus.

After all, they encouraged us when we felt down
and wondered if we could go on.
While sheltering in place,
those we love (who love us)
gave us a reason to honor the rules
that kept us distanced from one another.

In addition, they found creative ways
of communicating and keeping in touch
even when actual touch was not possible.