This week the hospital where I work started re-deploying many of its staff to help address changing needs during the current coronavirus outbreak. Instead of ministering to people in my usual physical therapy job, my new task is administering a thermometer, taking the temperature of each person who walks through the employee entrance, from 5 AM until noon. Whether placing me in this role (and so early in the day!) was Divine intent or merely comic relief, I don’t know, but I’m content with what I’m doing. It’s a simple and somewhat mechanical job—scanning people’s foreheads, one by one, while keeping vigilant about sterile technique. But I want to share with you all how it makes me feel and how it wakes me up—makes me more aware of our connection to the Spirit.
I could see my role as a kind of “Checkpoint Charlie,” keeping the infected folks away from the healthy ones. Very important and sad at the same time. There is a fearful power in my thermometer, with the potential for producing both dread and relief. With the authority invested in me by Mercy Health, I stand guard at this passage with the sternness of the old wizard, Gandalf the Grey. To those who would otherwise rush hastily by, I say: “You shall not pass!”
So, while I honor the necessary fierceness of my new ministry, I also find in it an unexpected blessing as well. To be greeting all of these people, my friends and co-workers, God’s children, at the back door of our hospital home, gives me such a spiritual kick. It really does! All I can say is: God bless them! Bless all of them moving past me on this medical conveyor belt, with their hands gripping their coffee cups, their minds so occupied, their hearts so full of the prayers, hopes, and sufferings of the day. Such a wonder and privilege to see them—their beautiful faces—and to reflect back, through my own imperfect face and manner, the love I know God intends for each and every one of them.
This is how I see and pray for each of them. And this is how I pray for myself and for the whole world during this excruciatingly sacred time of coronavirus. Please, take good care of yourselves and of one another. Amen.