Before reopening 4 weeks ago, we made signs for the front and back doors that stated we are following the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and asking coworkers and customers to wear a face mask over their nose and mouth while inside the store and to try to keep a reasonable distance between ourselves and others while shopping. We are so glad to be reopened! We think these requests are minor. We set up a station at the front door with hand sanitizer and free bandanas in case people who want to shop have come unprepared to cover their faces. We offer curbside service for anyone who does not feel comfortable wearing a mask and we have made many, many local deliveries for customers unable or unwilling to leave their houses. We love our customers, we love our store and we want to stay open to the public. We consider ourselves somewhat essential to the local churches for communion bread and sanctuary lights to keep the light of Christ burning.
Trust us. We get it. We have heard every pro and con, every negative and positive, everything about good and evil. As you all can imagine, there is something every day about the request to wear a mask.
But here's what we have learned from serving people through "the mask". We all know that the masks are hot and irritating. We all know that when going up and down four flights of stairs, it is difficult to breathe (heck it's difficult without a mask most days). But what we've discovered is that we must have been watching people's mouths all these years to hear what they say. We must have been thinking about our response for when their mouths stop moving instead of really listening to what they say. The covering of the mouth has made us actually look into the eyes and truly listen, carefully, to what people are telling us or asking. The mask forces us to ask people to repeat things because honestly, we don't always really listen - with the heart. The book, "The Power of Silence"
, emphasizes the importance of listening with the heart. We are learning how to keep our mouths closed and our minds silent but it is quite the journey. Shutting off the ability to see lips move has literally allowed us to practice what Cardinal Sarah has written. We can only hope to form better habits. We can only hope to find some kind of good from all these challenges. We can only hope and pray to learn more about the care and love of people, deep in their souls.
We cannot tell you, our customers, how grateful we are for each and every one of you. You are our support. You are our livelihood. You are our teachers. You are our neighbors and our friends. We cannot grow without you. After being without for 10 or more weeks, we know how important you are to our physical, spiritual and mental well being. Together let's try not to allow the face mask, a material irritant, to separate us, but instead to help us open our eyes and really see others. We may be surprised at how much we need one another and how much they need us.
"You may be writing, and the fullness of your heart will come to your hand also. Your heart may speak through your writing. Your heart may speak through your eyes also. You know that when you look at people they must be able to see God in your eyes. If you get distracted and worldly then they will not be able to see God like that. The fullness of our heart is expressed in our eyes, in our touch, in what we write, in what we say, in the way we walk, the way we receive, the way we need. That is the fullness of our heart expressing itself in many different ways." St Teresa of Calcutta