My Two Cents
March 13, 2022, 8:00 AM

Remember back to the early days of the pandemic? There was so much to stress about and obsess over. Fear was in the air, and we were all, in one way or another, acting out of that fear. We were wearing gloves and washing groceries in addition to doing the thing that turned out to matter the most- wearing our masks.

But finally, on most days, after we returned to the safety of our own homes, the masks would come off, and there we’d be. The real “us”.  Gloveless hands and maskless faces. Eating and drinking with the precious people in our pods and in each other’s virtual presence. It was great to see each other in our natural state virtually when we couldn’t be together in person.  But one thing that took some real getting used to, at least for me, was how often the pandemic forced us to look at our own faces, and hear how we sound to others.

Most times when we zoom in for meetings, ours is among the faces in the Hollywood Squares lineup. And, on those occasions when we were first to arrive, or the one who had called the meeting, there we’d be, all by ourselves. And that camera didn’t lie. It was us, all right- the way other people see and hear us.

That experience- of having to look at ourselves as the world sees us- was always jarring for me. But, by now, by this third go around with a pandemic season of Lent, it is also instructive.

When we look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning, we typically have an agenda. We are sprucing up this thing or that. We might be focused on our hair, or on our teeth. But when we are just looking at ourselves- our countenance in the presence of others, we get a sense of our own mortality. THIS is the person who has tried and failed repeatedly to do the right thing. And yet, this is the person God is inexplicably crazy about. That face, there, is the one that has tried to hide the truth to the people we love the most. That mouth has said some really questionable things, and yet those same people- the ones who have to look at that face- still love us.

We are mortal. We don’t look like we used to twenty years ago, or even two years ago. Our minds make promises that our bodies can’t fill- all the time.  And we won’t be around forever. But, in the meantime, these fragile, very ordinary selves are in community with other people just as worried about how they look in their little squares. Tentatively, imperfectly, but also bravely, in a way, our imperfect selves make their way through Lent. And if we should arrive at Easter one day, it will be because other people wearing flawed, beautiful bodies, have walked with us.