This morning's newspaper headline announced that swine flu has come early to British Columbia and advised that health experts are telling athletes and church-goers to revise their practices to reduce physical contact that may spread the virus.
At church this morning, our minister, Julie Lebrun, mentioned the news coverage, and suggested that we each decide how we would like to pass the peace - by handshake, bow or now, or elbow tap, as suggested in the newspaper. I was curious to see what would happen.
At passing the peace time, my friend Karen asked, "do you want to shake hands? or elbow tap?" we tried the latter for the novelty of it, but it was unsatisfactory. I suggested we bump hips. That was more emphatic and also fun. Karen headed down the aisle to bump hips with other congregation members. I decided to follow the lead of each person who greeted me. Some shook hands, some bowed with hands in prayer position - our current practice for those who are vulnerable to infection, or suffering from a cold or other ailment. My favourite was Dorothy, one of the elders of our congregation, and a leader-by-example in everything she does. Dorothy always clasps your hand in both of hers when she passes the peace. She looks you in the eye and gives the warmest, most sincere greeting that you could ever want. Well, today, Dorothy gave hugs, big warm juicy hugs with a "God be with you," right in the ear while she hugged. It felt so reassuring that she didn't think we'd all perish from influenza, just because we decided to make contact with our friends and neighbours at church.
I'm going to follow her lead next week and offer hugs. If I feel sick, I'll stay home. I'll also give only what people want - so there will still be some bowing and nodding, and maybe some more hip-bumps. Those are good too.
question: to what lengths should we go to protect ourselves from the virus that is among us?
mompoet - wondering about the risk/benefit balance of all of this