Devotion Thirty Five
As the covid pandemic erupted and spread and took over our lives, I was adamant about wearing a mask, limiting contact with other people, and hand sanitizing. At one point, as I distanced myself from another person in a public setting, the person I was with asked me, “Why do you assume that he has covid?” I replied, “I assume that everyone has covid, including me.” Taken aback, my companion replied, “Fair enough.”
I am not a medical professional or trained in public health, but after absorbing a lot of information about covid, my mind synthesized the situation into that simple behavioral guideline: assume everyone, including you, has it. That assumption would lead me to behave ways that would hopefully protect the safety of others and myself and reduce the strain on the healthcare system.
In looking back on that approach, I like that it took away the need to be constantly assessing different situations and people and adjusting accordingly. It took away the need to make judgements based on what? Impressions? Assumptions? Friendship? Unverified information? Bias? Convenience? Expediency? It was so much easier to just assume that I and everyone else had it, whether we knew it or not, because this thing works that way. Now we pivot into the wildness of mercy. What about simply assuming that each and every person bears not a virus, but the Divine Image. Each and every person is sacred, holy. Period.
No constant judging and assessing and deciding and allotting and defining. No worries about making a mistake or interjecting bias or leaving someone out. Just a blanket assumption, everyone is created in the Divine Image. Then behaving accordingly.
Frankly, it’s hard enough to try to treat everyone, including myself, as sacred and holy, without adding to that some kind of delineation process: Who gets treated as holy and sacred and who doesn’t.
So as we proceed through these last weeks of Lent, I encourage us to try to be intentional about seeing everyone, in person, at work, in our family, in the neighborhood, on the news, on social media, as precious, beloved, and sacred, created in the Divine Image. And try to notice if that changes your behavior in any way or your assumptions. Lent is a time to turn our lives toward God. How about turning our lives toward the image of God in every person?
Just like all birds and all elephants and all fish share common characteristics as living creatures, let us remember that we share common characteristics with each and every other human being. We are all created in the Divine Image. May we behave in ways that honor that image in ourselves and in everyone else. May we learn to function from the assumption that every life is precious and sacred. Amen.