Every Christmas, our family attended Christmas church services. It was the highlight of my pyromaniac year.
Upon entry, the ushers handed out little white candles with round cardboard wax catchers to almost everyone taller than 4′. The entire service passed by: the carols, the scripture readings, the sketches, the children’s choir, the message usually from Matthew or Luke and then … the best part … the candle lighting ceremony.
The same message was repeated every time.
“When you spread the word of Jesus Christ, it starts with a single light in the darkness … but it spreads and consumes the darkness with light.”
By the end of the ceremony, the whole church was illuminated in the prettiest flickering light. As everyone sung “Silent Night,” candles were carefully lifted over head.
It was a one of the most beautiful symbols I remember of the church because felt slightly more literal than metaphor. You could see the action it represented. One could watch the spread of light. And as a future photographer, I fell in love with that quality of flickering beauty.
This contradicted the times when the pastor said, “Bow before God,” but in our church it was figurative. We never knelt on our knees like Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists or Wesleyans.
My mind keeps returning to this metaphor of spreading one bit of phenomenon to many and how it pertains to the spread of viruses.
Covid-19 seemingly starts in the darkness, and by George, you can watch it spread via scientific discovery, testing and by following symptoms.
Gosh, you could use the metaphor for systematic racism or any other memetic virus.
Back in late March and April, Tina and I escaped to our investment property in North Carolina. While there, we ended up painting the exterior of the home. We planned on hiring pros to do it, but after the pandemic hit, we wanted to save some money.
It was a welcome distraction.
The color we mainly used was white. Over time, I noticed I left clues of the places I’d been or frequented. There are stairs leading out of our back yard into the front. There were white smears at the place I ascended, grabbed the gate and pulled my way up.
There were white smears on the doorknobs and on the floors where I tracked it through.
It was like there was a permanently illuminated blacklight forensics team showing me my crimes against our property.
Thing was, I thought I was cleaning up after myself. I thought I was washing my hands. But the evidence proved me wrong.
I finally realized that I needed to clean my hands and shoes more often. Not only more often, but more effectively. I needed to remove shoes before entering the house. I needed to grab handles with a clean cloth.
To what end?
To quell the spread of white paint on our clean floors, knobs, faucets, gates and misc property.
It’s quite an interesting observation to literally see what I was touching.
My observation led to an eye-opening moment: if I can’t keep track of everything I’ve touched after I’ve got paint on me, how much does the average bear know exactly what they’ve touched and how much its affecting those around us.
That, in part, is why I decided that wearing a mask was an important part of my public persona. I couldn’t see my path of destruction, just like I couldn’t see anyone one else’s. Someone with Coronavirus cannot see how far their breath goes and I can’t see where it is either.
It’s not a candle held to another candle held to another. It’s not white paint on fixtures around a home.
It’s “invisible” to the naked eye and it could easily be everywhere.
This isn’t to say I’m a neurotic shit.
It’s to spread a light in the darkness.
Too many loved ones still do not wear a mask. They are too big for the monster that is spreading like a Christmas Candle-lighting Ceremony.
And that’s sad.