March 6 – Notes from a Pious Hand Washer

First, apologies to those who find nothing funny about the coronavirus. Neither do I, but, let’s face it, we are a funny species and humor is a gift that we need not neglect even in times such as these.

The Centers for Disease Control is doing its best to help us cope with virus. In addition to crawling into our caves, the CDC has told us to learn to cough and sneeze into our elbows and wash our hands for as long and as often as we can. Apparently, we are taking the hand washing advice seriously since we are buying soap by the case full and hand sanitizer by the gallon. I know a dark alley where you can score a bar of Ivory or a jar of Germ-X.

Assuming you have access to soap, you are supposed to wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds every time you think you may have touched the wrong surface, shook the wrong hand, or whatever.

My guess is that someone at the CDC must have signed up for a prayer vigil at their church. They know how long 20 seconds can be.

I think it was during Holy Week – maybe Maundy Thursday through Easter morning.  In any event, we decided to have a prayer vigil at one of the churches I served.  We set up a prayer room and everything.  People were asked to sign up for an hour and come to the church to pray. You could get a special dispensation to pray at home if you took an after 10:00 p.m. and before 7:00 a.m. shift.

I volunteered to take an hour and showed up at the appointed time.  We even had a kneeler for the particularly holy.  I don’t know if I was on my knees or not, but I know it was a very long hour.  I know my thoughts were all over the place, and I am not sure I lasted 20 seconds without being distracted by some idea or another flitting through my mind.

So, I am figuring someone at the CDC signed up for a prayer vigil and it was there he or she learned how long 20 seconds can be.

Knowing the distraction 20 seconds can hold, they recommend that we sing “Happy Birthday” twice through or recite the Pledge of Allegiance two times as we wash our hands. 20 seconds. Good idea.

Being the clever species we are, the freelancers have been improving on the bureaucrats’ idea.  The Twittersphere is alive with alternatives to “Happy Birthday.”  In fact, the Los Angeles Times has published a top-ten list of songs to sing while washing your hands and protecting the world for the coronavirus.

Included on their list with YouTube links and the chorus or refrain to sing:

  1. Prince: “Raspberry Beret”
  2. Beyonce: “Love on Top”
  3. Dolly Parton: “Jolene”
  4. Toto: “Africa”
  5. Lizzo: “Truth Hurts”
  6. Fleetwood Mac: “Landslide”
  7. Eminem: “Love Yourself”
  8. Natasha Bedingfield: “Unwritten”
  9. Belinda Carlisle: “Heaven on Earth”
  10. Culture Club: “Karma Chameleon”

I may be familiar with the Dolly Parton song. Otherwise, never heard of them.  What is the pop-culturally illiterate person to do?  I don’t want to be responsible for a pandemic.

Pious but not pop, I’m coming up with a list of my own.  If you want to be really thorough as you wash your hands, try the chorus to “How Great Thou Art.”  It takes Elvis 40 seconds to make it through.  25 seconds for Matt Redman to sing the chorus to “10,000 Reasons.”

Think of the evangelistic possibilities of such pious handwashing. Be sure to carry a stash of “Four Spiritual Laws” pamphlets whenever you think you might be frequenting a public restroom.

Embarrassed about singing in public?  I’m with you. It takes me just about 30 seconds to recite the 23rd Psalm, and the Lord’s Prayer (debtors version) came in at 21 seconds.  Discipleship if not evangelism.

For those of you who are concerned, I don’t think the coronavirus is funny, and I have learned to pray for more than 20 seconds.  But it isn’t always easy.

See you Sunday (and it’s okay if you don’t want to shake hands)