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In This Place

Reflections on a Pandemic: Bruce Epperly

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Bruce Epperly

Over the past few weeks we reached out across our region to people from all walks of life. We asked them to share their thoughts as they navigate through the pandemic.

Here is one of the essays featured on our Voices of the Pandemic episode of The Point.

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Why I wear a mask?

I don’t like masks.  They are sweaty and uncomfortable and impede communication.  You can’t show your emotions when you wear a mask.

As a child I had asthma, and when I wore a Halloween mask, I felt like I was suffocating.  I didn’t like masks then, and I don’t like them now!

But regardless of my feelings, I choose to wear a mask these days. 

I choose to wear a mask even when I’m the only one walking at sunrise on Craigville and Covell’s beaches. 

As a pastor, I believe in the importance of witness and vocation.  I wear a mask for the safety of others and my own, but more importantly as a witness to my faith and concern for others. Wearing a mask has become a call to prayer.

I wear a mask because I care about the wellbeing of other people.  My faith tells me to love my neighbor as myself and to care for the least of these, the most vulnerable around me.  It reminds me that I am my neighbor’s keeper. 

We suspended public worship at our church, as did others, not out of fear but as an act of faith and care for others.  Our prayers and praises bring healing and health to the world even if we’re on Zoom and not meeting in our historic sanctuary.

I wear a mask because I have a calling that I need to honor.  Call and vocation are essential to my life.  Longevity is good, as Martin Luther King says, but I want to stay alive because I have a calling to be healthy so that I can minister to the spiritual needs of persons in our congregation and beyond. 

As a person with risk factors myself, I have a responsibility to stay healthy to care for my family, most especially my two young grandchildren, whom I nurture by my presence, homeschooling, and unconditional love each day.

As I writer, I need to stay healthy to continue to provide spiritual guidance for people across the country.  This isn’t a matter of ego, of seeing myself as special but of fulfilling the roles the Creator has given me, most especially by providing comfort and guidance in this time of pandemic.

I wear a mask because I am part of something larger than myself.  I’m connected with everyone I encounter, both human and non-human.  I’m joined in a fabric of relatedness with all creation. What I do shapes the wellbeing of others and my calling is to do something beautiful for God in every relationship and live out my role as a companion  with my Creator in healing the earth.

And so, despite the discomfort, I wear a mask because it’s an act of love for my neighbor and I strive in this small way to love my neighbor as I love myself.