Howard Hughes and the Importance of Going To Church

Plague be with you!

A large family with an adorable toddler sat in the pew in front of us at church the other day.  She made a game of reaching her arms out to be passed from person to person in the family, up and down the line.  The poor poppet had a cold. 

Most of the time she sat on Momma’s lap, right in front of us. Her little nose was running, and she was coughing.  Quite a bit, actually.  She coughed and coughed.

I smiled indulgently, although I was slightly alarmed by all the germs that were being sent my way.    Sometimes Grandma would hoist her up to look around.  My eyes met her sparkling little eyes.  Sparkling because of fever, no doubt, to go along with her runny nose.  Cough, cough, and cough over Grandma’s shoulder, about a foot from my face.

I started breathing shallowly to block some of the bacteria shooting straight out of her mouth in my direction. 

Another child joined the coughing chorus two pews back.

You could practically see the miasma of germs surrounding the child’s little head, though Momma tried to cover her mouth.  I had to wonder why someone would bring an obviously, gravely ill child out in public to put the healthy population at risk.

Our church does something called the sign of peace about ¾ of the way through the service.  You turn to each neighbor, shake hands and wish one another peace. 

I tried to breathe even more shallowly.

When the time came: “Peace be with you” (shake, shake, infect). “Peace be with you “ (shake, shake, infect).  Momma, Daddy, Grandma, Auntie, Auntie, every one of the plague carrier’s family turned with warm, open smiles to share the peace of the Lord along with the Andromeda strain.

I know Howard Hughes was a genuine nut case at the end.  But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a point.   There are a lot of germs in the world, and with all the careless people around, it’s not hard to catch something.  Maybe I should start wearing a facemask and gloves to church.

By the time the service was over, I was light-headed from barely breathing for the last 45 minutes, wondering whether it would be sacrilegious to break out the hand sanitizer in this holy place, and doubting it would do any good.  The bug was probably antibiotic- resistant.

The point is, we should all try to set aside time each week to concentrate on God, whatever our view of him, in community with others of our faith family.

About pegoleg

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13 Responses to Howard Hughes and the Importance of Going To Church

  1. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Do you know where that family went after church? Out for lunch, followed by a trip to the grocery store, spreading the love, peace, and infection all around the town. It’s a beautiful thing.


  2. I used to be a child like that — turning around in the pew, smiling adorably at the people behind me, dropping my hat so that the sweet person behind would smile as they handed it back to me. Bored bored bored, but entertained for the moment until my mom figured out what I was doing and put a stop to it!


  3. John Hunsinger says:

    Most likly they dipped thier infected fingers in the water on the way in. And so did everyone else. You were infected from the start, so next time go ahead and give the little snot ball a big hug.

    I really enjoy your blog, and the pics too. “Plague be with you” super funny.


  4. I need a moment to figure this out. I think the average pew is about eighteen inches deep, and they are set about eighteen inches apart. Considering that the germs from a cough can travel as far as three feet, I might be safe from the plague being expelled by the coughing baby in the pew a head of me. No, wait, my face isn’t glued to the back of the pew. The diameter of a human head from front to back is about six inches? Eight inches? That would put my face at right about… Great, I think I’m doomed. Oh well, if I’m going to get a cold anyway, hand the baby back here, I want to hold him. May as well infect the people behind me too.
    Great article! I don’t know how many times I have shook hands with someone in church and asked how they were doing, only to get the reply. “I’ve got the flu, but that wasn’t keeping me out of church.” I resist the urge to reach into my pocket for the hand sanitizer while I’m thinking, “Thanks for the germs, I know what’s keeping me out of church next week!”


  5. But wouldn’t there be some kind of holy protection going on? If the dead can be raised and lepers healed then a cold virus should be a slam dunk.


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