Try a little harder, sir
Sunday August 15th 2021, 10:34 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Sitting in the otherwise-empty choir seats up on the stand and staring down into his phone, since he’d done this the last time he’d visited and I knew what we were in for, he didn’t see me as I quietly snapped his picture before church started. His mask was covering his lips.

He knows our ward’s bishop is a virology and immunology researcher at Stanford, and if he somehow didn’t know that, one of the speakers during the meeting mentioned that very thing in gratitude that we have someone right here who’s always been glad to answer any question anybody asks about covid or the vaccines. Which he’d helped study.

The man surely had gotten the same email notification that the rest of us did.

He knew that the First Presidency of the Church, the stake president whom he answers to, the bishop, the state of California, and the county health department had all said that masks are to be worn indoors in the face of Delta.

Okay, so he was wearing one this time, just not how they meant, and the expression on his face was, Yawannamakesomethingofit? He looked like a defiant teenager. This was not a good look.

He made me live my religion right there in my seat, trying to be understanding and forgiving–but that doesn’t mean you let someone continue doing something wrong without calling them on it in the kindest way you can. Except that I didn’t want to go anywhere nearer his germs.

We always sit at the front so I can lipread and we’d arrived before he had so there we were right there, close enough as it was.

He caught my eye looking steadily up at his, as one does when waiting for a teenager to come to their senses, and turned away, his face softened to a sadness. Mask still down.

I decided to take that as progress.

When it was his time to speak, he quickly pulled it up properly before walking forward to where the bishop could see his face.

And pulled it back down once he was a few rows behind him again.

It’s like he had to keep face, literally, to the leaders–but not the rest of us.

I quietly sent that picture to the bishop after we got home, then deleted it from my phone. It came with a note saying, With my deafness I may not always get what you’re saying–but nobody can hide from me how they feel about it. (Basically, that’s one of the perks that makes it as close to worth it as anything will ever get.) And that was not a happy man.

Since this was not the first time, either, I said, please let me know in advance if at all possible when he’s going to come so that I can stay home that day. Yay Zoom.

So in case anyone’s curious what the official stance of the Mormon Church is: here is the email that was sent out to all this week. Note that the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a retired heart surgeon. Who wore a face mask for long hours throughout his career because that’s just what you do for those you’re caring for.

And I quote:


Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.

To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.
The First Presidency
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring

6 Comments so far
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Comment by Afton 08.16.21 @ 4:05 am

Perhaps the gentleman in question has trouble taking direction. I hope the bishop is able to gently correct that.
His wishes and feelings are not more important than anyone’s health.

Comment by Chris+S+in+Canada 08.16.21 @ 7:02 am

Defiant teenager – THAT’s the facial expression! No wonder I recognize it. I see it for 180 days a year in my classroom. I had a student last year who would regularly push the limit of how close to the building he could come before he was told to put his mask on. He also criticized me for being, and I quote, “extremely rude and ignorant” because I insisted he wear his mask properly. I’m sure this came from his parents. Defiant teenager, indeed.

Comment by Pegi F 08.16.21 @ 7:13 am

It makes me sad how little so many people are willing to do for the sake of others.

Comment by ccr in MA 08.16.21 @ 7:27 am

I’m sorry…I’m way past sad. I’m angry! I’ve been robbed of enough time already. At my age I feel time is limited anyway. I would like to live what’s left of my time!!!

Comment by Jayleen Hatmaker 08.16.21 @ 10:59 am

Glad you took those steps!
If he’s not interested in wearing masks, he should join remotely.
There were probably a few others present with health conditions that day…
keep well.
I have taken short public transit and two-hour train rides in past weeks. It felt so strange to be among strangers again. I am not quite ready for in-person dining and events yet … maybe by November or January?

Comment by Lisa RR 08.17.21 @ 5:36 pm

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