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Love as Protection

To become a Unitarian Universalist fellowshipped minister requires doing at least one unit of CPE - Clinical Pastoral Education. During that time, you're learning and working as a chaplain. 

We had regular chapel services that included the communion ritual of bread and grape juice. Not being a Christian, I did not partake, but I appreciated the ritual, especially one part that is not the norm, unless you are in a hospital setting. There would be two chaplains in their priestly role. They would say the traditional words, serve each other communion, then invite those who wished to come forward. 

But right before that, the two of them would pause at the communion table for the hand sanitizer. They made it part of the ritual, so that patients could see them cleaning their hands for the safety of the patients. 

And I was just entranced by that. Something so ordinary, becoming a visual symbolic act of love and care. Before the words for the breaking of bread, "this is my (Jesus') body, broken for you," they silently said by their actions, "these are our hands, cleansed to keep you safe, hands that will bring the bread of life to you." 

It gave a holy significance to the act that I never stopped seeing. When I witnessed doctors and nurses washing their hands before entering a patient's room, it was as if I was watching a religious ritual. During the chapel service, the chaplain-priests would murmur over and over the words of the ritual to each person, Take and eat this in remembrance...  Over and over, they would say the words, each time it was a blessing anew for the participant. 

Over and over, at every single room, I would watch the healers as they washed their hands before entering each room. Each time, a blessing anew for the person inside. 

Right now, when I leave my house, I take a clean mask. Before getting out at the gas station, the mailbox, the street where I walk with my mother, I tie on the mask, reverently. It is a blessing for anyone whom I may encounter. This is my action, done in order to make you more safe. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you be blessed. 

washing hands

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