‘Did You Wash Your Hands…After You Did Your Business?’

I attended church this morning.  I am proud of that assertion…because I do not attend as often as I should.

Early in the service…we have a segment that is called…passing the peace…where you shake hands with your fellow congregants…and wish them…peace.

As I shook, one young man’s hand, who I had spoke to earlier in the restroom…before the 9:30 am service began…he asked me…’If I had washed my hands after I had done my business?’


I responded that all that I had done was combed my hair…in the restroom….as I assumed that he was referring to our earlier encounter.

He repeated, emphatically, ‘did you wash your hands after you did your business?’

I responded that I had.  He said, thank you.

IMG_0652 2

I pondered this question…for sometime…today.

What is wrong with honesty and honest questions?


So often, we hide our real questions and motives behind a hidden agenda…or as The Catcher In The Rye’s primary character, Holden Caulfield,  would say, we are phonies.


This fine young man, had an honest question…and sought an honest answer.

How often do we say one thing…and mean another?

How often, do we have a pre-conceived idea and construct and culminating decision regarding our fellow human beings…and that ‘concrete form’ that we have constructed…is the last word and idea and opinion…on another human that is traveling the same road that we are traveling…and eating the same dust from the trail…and feeling the same pain…that we are experiencing?


I just wrote a blog post about Race…and The Simplicity of Understanding.  I think that, understanding, begins and ends…with honesty.

If we seek to understand others…we must be honest with our questions…and patient with our listening.

Listening, is an art.

Have you ever noticed that often when you are speaking to another person..that they are looking at you…and seem attentive…but that if you would inquire as to what you had just said…they would be a blank.

So often, when another is speaking, we are thinking about what we are going to say next.

Much is the same, when it comes to understanding the racial divide.

If we enter the discussion…feeling that we already have all of the answers…or if we are unwilling to consider ideas…that are somewhat foreign to us….we have lost the value of the dialogue…before it begins.

At the same time….expect…questions that are candid and hurtful and painful and much like tearing a bandage off of a gaping wound…if healing…is to result from the discourse.


‘Did you wash your hands…after you did your business?’


8 responses

  1. A good post BJ! But still, I find it odd that the question arose during the passing of the peace and shaking of hands. It defeats the feeling of camaraderie or brotherhood or sisterhood.

    For me, I carry antiseptic wipes so that the standard of my self cleanliness is maintained without affecting others in their comfort zone. And hey if one has to ask that in church, I wonder about its appropriateness – so much for brethren feeling is my take and I guess I am not being nice here. But in a church?! Hmm perhaps next time do not offer handshakes as I remember during SARS outbreak, I did the traditional Chinese style of putting a clench fist into the palm of the other hand to form a rounded ‘salute’ to the person I am meeting. This is a respectful gesture by Asian Chinese.

    1. The young man has some cognitive disability. The question did take me by surprise.

      I have met people that do not shake hands for fear of disease.

      I think, the question must have occurred to him as he shook my hand, and he was attempting to ensure his hygienic well being.

      He is a fine and dedicated church member and, as I discovered this morning, extremely candid. 😉

      1. Aah this explains it! Candid is the word indeed! LOL! I suppose for those who know him well can better understand the context. Whereas for a total stranger or first time worshipper or visitor, the person may be floored with that question! Phew!!

      2. The candidness of the question…and in the environment we were in…caused me to ponder some of the hard and painful discussions that must occur…if racial bias and prejudice are ever overcome.

      3. True. It is a tough nut to crack BJ. As it is here in lil red dot, employers are prejudiced against hiring seniors. Sad world of affairs.

    1. Thank you my friend. 🌞

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