Masks – which one will you wear today?

When I was a kid back in the day, masks were a bad thing. In the movies, in the news, masked people meant trouble, unless of course you considered the Lone Ranger, or Zorro, or Batman and Robin—but even then, they were misunderstood and assumed to be lawless until proven otherwise.

Now the law is to wear masks, mostly. I’ve been pondering on the way that masks have flipped to being a good thing. A keep-out-of-trouble thing. A protection for the wearer and for those around them. Both/and.

I am troubled when folks who insist “I am not sick” forget that they can indeed be sick and not know it, and spread virus to others when they forgo their masks. Such a simple thing it is, to wear a mask. Please!

There are so many styles and shapes of masks out there now, a cottage-industry, almost a new form of art. So many choices…

But there are also masks, in this time of COVID-19, that we should not wear. One is the mask of indifference to those around us who may be struggling to put food on the table, or pay their mortgages, or continue to work in dangerous settings to provide care or necessities for the rest of us. We are in this together. No longer what I want or need, but what is best for all.

Another is the mask of ignorance and assumptions. Truth is sometimes difficult to ferret out, but it is each of our jobs in life to discern fact from fiction, hype from help, certainty from “spin.” This COVID climate may make that more difficult, but no less essential. Check facts. Dispel rumors. And if you assume, try to assume the best instead of the worst.

And the third mask that we should not wear is the mask that hides our feelings. In a time of physical distancing, finding ways to connect is even more important. Share your feelings with a loved one or friend. Open your heart to those who are experiencing loss. This is hard; admit it, and we will get through it together.

What mask will you choose, or not choose, to wear today?

—The Rev. Dr. Colleen Kristula                                                                        Chaplain, The Lutheran Home at Topton

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