Jesus went on to say, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me."
~ John 16:16
I just spent the last hour sitting with the wife of one of my patients. She suffers from Alzheimer's, and was busy working on a puzzle, while her husband was sleeping comfortably in the next room. "I don't know why 'they' think that I don't know what's going on?" she said to me.
Before I realized it, I was adding pieces to the puzzle, helping her discover pieces with the colors "gold and black," as she requested, and we found that we were working in synch with one another.
"Colors are my life," she explained.
"I used to wear dark colors all the time, but then when I got older, 'poof, look at me now," as she showed off her bright green shirt and blue pants.
I complimented her on her outfit and then she looked at me and asked my name again for a second time and then said, "It's so nice of you to spend time with me today." She noted the surgical mask hanging from my shirt pocket that I have been wearing to make visits. "You know, we all wear masks. Some people wear very interesting masks that prevent us from seeing who they really are."
She continued, "I've always thought that you should let people see you for who you are. One thing that this virus, or whatever you want to call it is doing, is teaching us how important masks can be, but now for keeping us apart from one another. I hate that part. We have to be with each other. We have to be able to see each other's face. It's like this puzzle. Not being able to see each other's faces is like the missing part of this puzzle. Something's missing."
She then turned to the cat that walked into the room and asked her daughter, "When did we get this cat?"
Her daughter looked at me and smiled.
I needed this moment. I needed the wisdom of a woman with Alzheimer's, working a puzzle, and just reminding me how important it is to be present with one another.
As I was leaving I shared with her daughter that this might be my last face-to-face, in person visit, as we are being asked to do more of our visits through virtual meetings. It dawned on me what Jesus might have been feeling, knowing that he was soon going to be distant from those who he had spent miles walking beside each day.
John, in his gospel, captures Jesus sharing, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me."
We wear masks. We are distancing ourselves from one another, and make plans to be apart for a "short time."
All through this experience I have to ask and wonder, "When this is all over, and we no longer have to wear masks, will be allow others to see us as we are?"
For now, each of us seem to be facing some interesting days ahead. I'm grateful for this moment during all the chaos, and for the reminder that there still exists opportunities for us to be present for one another... even if it is from behind a mask.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.