While wearing a mask during the Covid-19 pandemic, Lisa Simmons learned a lesson about unkind speech.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic even began, I have always been kind of a fanatic about washing my hands. I used to work in a grade school as the secretary and took care of sick kids day in and day out, which meant I also was sick a lot myself. So I began a frenetic habit of washing my hands every time I touched a door handle or phone or sick child. Though not quite the germ-a-phobic that the television character "Monk" is, I do catch myself washing my hands quite often.
My obsession with handwashing became even more apparent when I became a grandma. My poor granddaughter is constantly getting reminded to wash her hands. Her mother reminds me that a little bit of dirt is actually good sometimes, but that doesn't stop me from buying foaming soap which is more fun to wash with and a step-stool for our guest bathroom so my granddaughter has no excuses to not wash her hands! I keep trying to remember if I was this paranoid about germs when my own three kids were babies.
But this morning, the Gospel reminded us about the Pharisees complaining about the disciples not washing their hands. But Jesus reminded them that it was the inside of the body we need to wash more often than our hands. We as God's people need to remember to keep what is inside us, our souls and hearts more pure and whitewashed. We need to cleanse our thoughts and words to be as clean as our hands. In other words, we need to be careful about what comes out of our mouths!
Oh boy … my family can tell you that I have a hard time keeping what I am perturbed about at times inside without blurting it out. And it is especially bad when I am driving. But then our county declared that everyone had to wear a mask out in public and especially in church, in stores, and around others. While I was worried at first about feeling claustrophobic wearing a mask all the time, I am embarrassed to admit I also thought wearing a mask would make things easier because people would not hear the unkind things I muttered under my breath or see me mouth a bad word. I am ashamed I actually thought of it that way.
But then I discovered the lesson of the mask. While at first the mask did keep my mutters a little more quiet, muttering inside the mask also tended to wear me out more. Muttering useless complaints seemed to suck up the oxygen quicker, and as we all know wearing a mask can make breathing a little more difficult anyway -- so I quit muttering so much. Instead, I started noticing the different masks people were wearing and the number of people that were actually wearing them. I slowed down my thoughts (or the lack of oxygen did that for me!) and found myself growing a little more patient. I was a little more calm, a little more patient, and seemed to be collecting fewer angry thoughts to darken my soul.
While I am far from being perfect, I felt like the mask was reminding me to not only wash my hands, but to wash my mouth; in other words, to be more careful about what I was thinking or concerned about. I need to become a more peaceful, calm and prayerful person. My mask has become a physical reminder to me to watch my mouth. Who would have thought a mask would do that? I certainly did not!
So if you are struggling with wearing a mask during these times, if you worry about germs with your kids, grandkids or yourself, trying looking at it in an little different way. Some germs are okay, but you've got to remember to wash your hands. Many thoughts are great, but you've got to remember to not them stray into impatience or unkindness.
Jesus warned us that keeping totally germ-free on the outside was not going to get us into heaven. It is what is inside that counts.
About the Author
Lisa Hendrix Simmons is a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, and lover of adventures! She works full time at her Catholic parish as the social media/technology/Family Life Ministry coordinator. She writes about staying young and fun while living Catholic. When not writing she is knitting, playing music with her husband and having fun with her kids and grandkids. Visit her blog at https://youngfunandcatholic.blogspot.com/ and at www.simmonsfamilycenter.com/mommaknitsayarn