Church Of The Bubonic Plague

churchwindowchildA 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 me. Her little nose was running, and she was coughing.  Quite a bit, actually.  She coughed and coughed.

I smiled indulgently.   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 was slightly alarmed by all the germs that were being launched my way.

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.

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 infected family turned with warm, open smiles to share the peace of the Lord along with the bubonic plague.

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.

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.  That bug was probably resistant to anything modern medicine could throw at it.

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.  Maybe I should start wearing a haz-mat suit to church.  With the careless disregard some people show for others, it will be a miracle if I don’t end up sick as a dog inside 24 hours.

But here’s the point I’m trying to make; it’s important to set aside time each week with others of our faith family, to give 100% of our attention to God.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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93 Responses to Church Of The Bubonic Plague

  1. That photo is priceless! Aw! nothing more adorable than a kid spaying noxious saliva into your face. Next time go to church with a purse full of Purell and a fashionable surgical mask. It’s how I roll.

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  2. franhunne4u says:

    The toddler had a cold, not the plague. That is something toddlers are very good at, catching colds. They do not always spread to grown-ups – cos you might have encountered that strain of vius in your years already, while the immune-system of the toddler is still coping and learning. You might not get that specific cold. Breathe …

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  3. lbeth1950 says:

    I’ve often thought of this when shaking hands or hugging. People should stay home when sick.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful –

    Gordon Martin
    “When you start from generosity, all is possible”

    >

    Like

  5. I’m sensing a theme here, Peg. Maybe you and crazy old Howard have more in common than you think.

    We ‘pass the peace’ at our church too – I have a friend who dashes out to the lady’s room at that exact moment every Sunday, just so she doesn’t get those nasty germs. She’s a genius!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Al says:

    Just recovering from apoplexy from the picture. I think I am well enough to comment now. Isn’t there an old saying….”the family that prays together, slays together?”

    Like

  7. nrhatch says:

    The best way to avoid getting sick in church?
    Stop going to church. 😛

    That’s my solution anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

      • pegoleg says:

        I don’t want to be standing next to you, two heathens when the lightning strikes. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • nrhatch says:

          I’m not worried that some personified deity will smite me down for not attending church services. After all . . .

          What artist would paint a Daisy then punish it for not being a Rose? 😛

          Liked by 1 person

        • Hey, He’s the one that said, “God helps those that help themselves” Or I think so…not sure He or my mom created the “God gave you a brain, use it…” (insert giggles here)
          Constantly sick kids are sign of the times. So many are constantly sick from daycare germs since both parents are working. But no excuse.
          A bit selfish on the parents/grandparents’ determination to go to church anyway. Sickies should stay home.
          Many people now are dealing with cancer treatments/immune damage from treatments or transplants and are at risk. Many people with health risks do avoid malls, movies, airports, entertainment, grocery stores. Why should those people (who really need to hear some prayers) should also stay home on Sunday because contagious sickies must go to church?
          Be considerate and keep sickies at home.
          Or help pay for a special room in the back that has a big glass picture window and audio so the ones with crying babies/terrible coughs/sick kids can go to church but spare the rest of the congregation.
          OK. Sitting down quietly over here now…..

          Liked by 2 people

  8. Two words: FIST BUMP!! (I can just picture you in church fist bumping the elderly lady next to you, ha,ha,ha.)
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fist-bump-handshake-high-five-which-spreads-the-most-germs/

    Like

  9. lisaspiral says:

    I was talking with a member at Gilda’s club about this the other day. Chemo often means immune suppression and this time of year church is a little scary. Maybe gloves should come back into style along with that face mask.

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  10. dmswriter says:

    Our church just started the hand-shaking thing, and enough germ-conscious types protested, so we now have hand sanitizer in all the pew racks. Strange – now that it’s there, no one uses it. Cough, cough. 😉

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  11. Linda Tharp says:

    I’ve also been on the receiving end of a germy handshake during the peace. Or how about this one: the handshake of a guy you’ve been watching chew his nails all morning long. On his right hand. Great way to test your faith–and your immune system.

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    • pegoleg says:

      Eeeeew! Lots of people just keep their hands in their pockets and nod and smile to everyone around them. Of course, if you’re left hanging with your hand outstretched to that person you kinda feel like a doofus, but what the heck.

      Like

  12. Allie P. says:

    Unfortunately if you were to keep a toddler home whenever they are sick, you wouldn’t be able to leave your house until they started kindergarten (and even then you could only go out maybe six months out of the year). You could probably put a toddler in one of those germ free bubble rooms and they’d still develop runny noses. All you can do expose them to all sorts of germs early (while they still take regular naps) so that they can eventually develop antibodies.

    However I too would have been just as hesitant to exchange the peace with an obvious infection. Just because I understand why they are out in public, doesn’t me I want what they are carrying.

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  13. Daddy Bear says:

    Every church I’ve ever been to has a sound-proofed “crying baby room” where the service is piped in so that people with an upset child can remove the distraction and still hear the sermon. Seems to me that such a place could do double-duty as a sick room if neither of the parents wants to stay home. By alternating sick duty, neither parent would miss all that much, surely…

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    • pegoleg says:

      Good suggestion. We do have such a place in the back, but it’s almost always full of people who either came in late or want to leave early. Or that’s my un-Christian assumption of their motives. 😉

      Like

  14. Uuuuuuuugh.

    My new manager has been sick for a week. She was able to pinpoint exactly where she picked it up, and it was so, so very avoidable with even the tiniest bit of the care.

    I used to pride myself for showing up sick. Now I keep myself and my germs home unless it’s essential that moment (like for food or meds), because what’s a nuisance to me could be fatal to someone else … like, say, the tiniest man in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      That’s me, Deb. I usually don’t let a little cold slow me down. The problem is that this is my business, and there are only 4 of us here. Add to that, both of my employees have sinus problems, so they ALWAYS have something going on with the nose that looks like a cold. If they took off when they were sniffly, they’d be off from Oct to April!

      It’s a constant balancing act between feeling like a slacker and infecting everyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. mercyn620 says:

    When around kids a lot you develop some immunities to those pesky germs. When those germs see a weak human they pounce – hope you don’t get that cold!

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  16. Carrie Rubin says:

    It’s hard to fathom why someone would bring their sick child to church like that. I know it can be difficult to find someone to stay home with the child, but surely one person can miss service that week. Infections that spread by droplets can circulate up to three feet away. Infections that are airborne–well, good luck to the entire congregation. Hope you didn’t catch anything! (But you did get a blog post out of it, so there’s that. 😉 )

    Liked by 2 people

    • pegoleg says:

      THree feet? THREE FEET???? OK, now I’m worried, Carrie. Actually, I’m more of an offender than an offendee. I think nothing of going out sick because I’m generally healthy. Resolved to worry more about the OTHER guy from now on.

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      • Carrie Rubin says:

        But at least when you cough or sneeze, you probably do so in the crook of your elbow or a kleenex and stop those droplets in their tracks. A child, on the other hand, likes to hack openly, eager to share their treats with the world. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Elyse says:

    I feel for you Peg — and especially for your sister. I’m immuno-compromised, too. It is sooooo inconsiderate to bring a sick child out like that. Especially in this flu season where people are literally dying, and it is so hard to tell at the beginning (at the drippiest) if it is cold or flu. You might want to mention it to the priest.

    On another note, I can’t think of the plague without thinking of one of my first writing tasks at WHO. My boss had had lunch with the Health Minister of India, who had had a stomach ache. I drafted the line “I hope that whatever was plaguing you resolved.” My boss said, “ummm, can you change that line. In his part of India they just did have an outbreak of the plague …” I thought it no longer existed, but it actually does. I just read about an outbreak somewhere else this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      Oh, jeez, Louise. You’re so right. I use terms like that flippantly, secure in the knowledge that none of that bad stuff can touch ME.

      I was really making fun of myself for fixating on the germs instead of paying attention to the mass, as opposed to ragging on the parents. I generally enjoy good health so I don’t think that much about those things, but there are a lot of immuno-compromised that I don’t take into account as I should. I’m the one who goes to work sick because I feel guilty staying home, and that’s not fair to everyone else.

      Like

      • Elyse says:

        It was an eye-opener for me, Peg. I thought it was long dead. Like in the 1600s or so.

        I knew you weren’t ragging on the parents. I was projecting. And ALL DAY I was listening to a consultant who comes in every couple of week. There he goes again, coughing. Ugh!

        Like

  18. Unfortunately I sympathize with you Peg. Just yesterday on the subway, the woman next to me was nearly coughing up a lung. She tried covering her mouth with her scarf, but I know all her little germs were everywhere. It’s a new definition of “paying it forward.”

    Here’s hoping we both say healthy!

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  19. cookiesdad says:

    But the power of the Lord will prevent you from getting sick in His holy place … or so I tell myself when I reach for the communion cup. Yep, I’m probably taking the down elevator.

    Throughout my life, I never cared about things like this, but once I had a toddler and understood the biological hotzone that is preschool and daycare, I started carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer for just these situations.

    Like

  20. Dana says:

    *I* was probably that kid a few decades ago, Peg. My parents (mom especially) were hardcore church-goers, and NOTHING could prevent them from hauling the family to Sunday mass. At least we sat in the very front row, though, so we were mostly only coughing onto the priest… and the choir… and okay, maybe every single person who lined up to receive communion. (Front row/center aisle– cover all the bases!)

    Like

  21. I used to find it annoying when sick people went to crowded places. Now I live with someone who has COPD and heart disease, and I find it offensive and selfish. Your cold could kill someone I love very much, so yeah, it ticks me off.

    Like

  22. Was going to say just stop going to church, but then noticed that has already been presented by several people. Still a good solution though… and hand sanitizer!!

    Like

  23. I’m thinking God didn’t get 100% of anybody’s attention during that service. The minister could probably do the same sermon next week and no one would notice. You could bring a can of Lysol germ killer spray and just spray every time she coughs and perhaps they would get the hint that it would be appreciated if they prayed from home until they are all better.

    Like

  24. dorannrule says:

    I was holding my breath just reading this! Maybe rubbing hand sanitizer on your face would form a shield?

    Like

  25. koehlerjoni says:

    I’ve been in education for 23 years now, and you wouldn’t believe how many children come to school sick. One time I had a child wipe his snotty nose with the back of his hand and then hand me back a pencil he’d borrowed. The pencil was in the hand that was now covered with snot. Arrgh! Stay home when you are sick. However, I’ve also been the mother of that baby, who hasn’t been out of the house, talked to an adult, or worn real clothing all week. Church was my whole social life at times. I can understand why she’d come to church anyway, even if the baby felt a little bad.
    I hope you don’t catch it.

    Like

  26. elvagreen123 says:

    Did you know Mrs. Doubtfire used the word “poppit”? So cute. :]

    Like

  27. I am certain you were protected in the House of the Lord. Absolutely certain of it.

    Like

  28. I won’t tell you how many students have come in saying they have/had strep throat. Yikes!

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  29. alissonpond says:

    Oh my goodness! I absolutely loved reading this, partly because I face the daily struggle of trying to ignore all the germs lurking everywhere. Very entertaining. Thank you.

    Like

  30. Nicole Roder says:

    Here’s what I do in those situations: When people turn to me for the sign of peace, I hold up a hand and say “I’m sick. Peace be with you.” (You can go to confession later for the lie. 😉 ) Also, DON’T drink the wine at communion (you’re drinking after all those coughing people, after all), and go ahead and break out the hand sanitizer. My church has hand sanitizer and tissues all over the place. I have 3 young kids. I keep them home from church when they are really sick, but honestly, sometimes a cough goes on for weeks with these guys, and I really don’t want to miss Mass for that long, or have to coordinate with my husband so that we go to separate Masses. It’s such a huge pain. So if they’re still coughing after a while, I do take them to Mass. (Sorry!) But I really would not be offended if someone didn’t want to shake our hands or used hand sanitizer immediately afterward. Nobody wants to get sick, and I especially don’t want to make someone sick. Hope you didn’t catch anything!

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  31. That’s why I’m a Buddhist. 😉

    Like

  32. Hahaha that attached image is great. I would experience these same semi-paranoid fears of getting sick in grade school when our activities had to do with a) holding hands, b) exchanging papers, or c) hugging.

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  33. shinaj1 says:

    I’m glad to know we’re not the only ones who think like you. Sometimes it can seem that we’re being neurotic. It is very important to spend time with family but seriously, if they’re sick leave them home for goodness sakes. It wasn’t until me and my husband started having kids that we realized how thoughtless others can be when it comes to illness. People will literally wipe their nose and then ask to hold your baby, or they’ll come to your house knowing their children has the plague. 🙂

    Like

  34. thatssojacob says:

    And this is why I don’t go to church. Well, that, and because I’m Jewish.

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  35. Loved the pic… and by the way did you catch a cold or not ??? 😛

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  36. cat9984 says:

    It’s kind of humorous – at our church, people are concerned with the communal chalice while it’s the Peace that’s the real germ-fest.

    Like

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