As the Masks Come Off, Look for All There Is To Be Grateful ForPublished: April 3, 2023
A message from Rev. Melissa Strong, M.Div., APBCC, service leader for Spiritual Care Services at Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital
We’ve all been on a long journey. When I reflect back, the last three years seem like both a decade and milliseconds – as if the time was sucked into a black hole. In some ways, I struggle to remember life before COVID-19, masks and all that we’ve had to endure – all that we’ve had to overcome. If there’s anything the last three years have taught us, it’s that we are amazing, strong and resilient. You are amazing, strong and resilient.
We’re about to transition one more time as we end the requirement for masks in the public areas of our hospitals, joining our clinics and other spaces. For many of you, the masks have been off, at least in most places, for a while. Others may not be sure they want to remove them just yet.
Regardless of your personal choice, covering our faces for this long has had an impact on who we are as people and how we interact with the world. The human spirit craves to see and connect with other humans. As we shed these masks, I wonder what it means to you.
Are there images, memories, stories or losses that you’ve been holding onto? Are there figurative masks you’ve had to keep on, just to survive and function the last three years? As we begin to surrender these literal masks, are there things you need to release to allow them to be in the past and not come to the present? What healing is there to be done on your body (yes, maskne is a real thing) and in your spirit?
I’m focusing on gratitude – something I’ve wholeheartedly tried to embrace since March 2020. With all of the change, loss and pain, I’ve asked myself: What are things I can be grateful for?
Now, I’m working to reignite this practice, and I’ll be glad to again see laugh lines, dimples and smiles. I’m eager to see the bottom half of someone’s face that I’ve never seen before! We’ve been missing the beauty that a smile can bring to this world, especially in times of health crises. We may have forgotten how a simple smile can bring light to a dark room and joy to moments of suffering and sorrow.
No matter where you are with masking, I encourage you to find time for reflection. Perhaps you’ll write on a mask what you’re working to release just before you discard it. My prayer is that as the haze of COVID-19 continues to lift, you find healing in this transition and are able to see anew. Take a moment to truly appreciate the person in front of you, whether it’s a coworker, stranger or friend. Just like you, that person is amazing, strong and resilient.
Look how far we’ve come, friends. Smile and feel the light in your soul.
If you would like to speak with a chaplain for support, please feel free to reach out.
Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital: Call Operator “0” and ask for the chaplain to be paged.
Methodist Fremont Health: Call Scott Jensen at (402) 290-1408.