Reopening Church; Old Guys


No singing.

No Eucharist.

No shaking of hands.

No hugging.

No sharing a BCP or leaflet with a neighbor.

No leaning toward each other in coffee hour chat.

No sitting together for adult education.

No hanging out in the kitchen or the choir room.

I repeat: No singing. For Episcopalians and Lutherans both, this is like No breathing.

Still, the joy of being together could outweigh these losses.

So many of us are older. My dearest friends are my age and up to a generation older; already some of my dear ones have died in recent years, but of old age, not of an avoidable contagion. If we were to gather, and then had people sicken and die of COVID-19, how would we live with ourselves? The grief and guilt would be overwhelming.

Should only younger people gather, if they are confident of their health and willing to accept the risk? Then our congregation will have divided along generational lines. That is not a small loss. But younger people, too, sometimes die of the disease, and also sometimes suffer prolonged illness. They don’t escape scot-free.

I think it’s too soon to reopen our buildings, for everyone’s sake. I would cautiously agree to meet outside when the weather makes it possible. But I don’t think we can meet indoors until there is either effective treatment or a vaccine.

The single thing that would make these separation more bearable would be to have technology that lets us sing and hear each other in real time.

If we could just sing together.

And then-and thenand then-there’s who’s going to die if we reopen and things don’t go well.

MEN, that’s who. Years ago, when I was still a young know-nothing, I visited an older friend; unimaginably old (about my age now, or maybe 5 years more). Her husband might have been a few years older still. Young women, a word to the wise: don’t marry an older guy, they run out of steam while you’re still young and vigorous, and then what!

While we were talking (planning a women’s retreat, actually) my friend’s husband toddled into the room holding pen and paper, dropped his pen and managed to kick it under a chair, and ended up stretched out at full length, reaching for it. Mission accomplished, he rolled over his back and commenced flailing.

“I can’t get up!”

I won’t say that he whined, exactly, but he did sound rather sad for himself.

“Nobody can get up that way,” my friend said, all business. “You turn onto your side and push yourself up!” She plopped down beside him, gave a demonstration, and then watched approvingly as he repeated what she had done, lumbering to his feet. Then he tottered out of the room, muttering to himself.

“Men!” my friend exclaimed. “They’re no good! And they don’t even have babies!

She wasn’t speaking of their moral qualities. She was talking about their bodies, which give out sooner than ours do. She was probably thinking of her friends who had already entered into their years of widowhood.

I spent my younger years being furious at men, especially men in positions of responsibility. Now that they are getting old and fragile, I find that I hate to see it. I hate it.

They’re the ones we will lose if we play our cards wrong. I can’t bear the thought of it.

Copied and edited from You understand that more women than men die at the very greatest old age because most of the men have died by then.

July 17, 2020 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

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