To Mask Or Not To Mask

Today covid restrictions are lifted and covid infections are rising. So… To mask, or not to mask?

We’re familiar with the metaphor of ‘the mask’ that we hide our real selves behind. I’m reading ‘Taking off the Mask’ by Claire Musters that helpfully reflects on this…

Musing on 4 common masks…

Role masks: The professional clown, the actor playing ‘Phantom of the Opera’, Mr Blobby or Captain Canary, the Elvis impersonator… Their job is to play another character…

People change when wearing role masks… Parents disciplining their children, teachers entering a classroom, receptionists speaking to important customers with their ‘phone-voice’, teenagers serving at McDonalds…

Fun masks: The medieval knight, the banana, Fred Flintstone, the ice cream… watching spectators in fancy dress at the cricket yesterday…

The mask of the social event, the good time, the laughter, sometimes assisted by alcohol. The mask wearer feels better playing to his/her audience, often failing to realise that they too may be mask-wearers.

Protection masks: The surgeon, welder, beekeeper, firefighter, diver, the covid mask… worn for health and safety reasons…

Many wear masks for their own protection and preservation – from feelings of inadequacy, guilt, fear, failure, loneliness or ignorance, from others who would attack or hurt them, from themselves…

Disguise masks: The bank robber, Batman, The Lone Ranger, Superman… worn to conceal the identity of the wearer.

The mask of confidence, success, popularity, beauty, self-sufficiency or happiness conceals the true identity of the wearer. Comparing themselves to others, feeling inadequate, the mask disguises their true identity.

Some say we shouldn’t wear a mask. Those who live mask-free lives live with a consistency and integrity that others envy.

This morning I read: ‘He who gets wisdom loves his own soul: he who cherishes understanding prospers.’ (Proverbs 19:8)

I know that sometimes I wear a mask. I pray for the understanding to recognise when that is, and the wisdom to love myself when it’s taken off.

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