At night on the third floor of our home in Melrose, I would listen to my radio. In my family, you were fortunate if you had your very own radio – I was fortunate. One of my favorite programs was “that masked man.” Who was that masked man that spoke, “Hi Ho, Silver Away?” That question would be asked at the end of the program. “That masked man was the Lone Ranger.” Some superheroes of today still wear masks. There is Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, and long ago in the movies, there was Zorro with a sword that slashed the initial “Z” -his name! Today, I look about and who wears masks now: those people who wish to stay safe in a time of a pandemic.
It is difficult now to be a witness to a person’s expressions and feelings. We no longer can see a smile or a turned down mouth in a frown. We now look and see a person’s eyes, and those eyes can be expressive as my wife, Dale, would say. “Some eyes seem to light up and say hello in a friendly way, but some eyes just seem to be dull and unexpressive.” So when you meet someone in a grocery store and that person is masked and so are you, you cannot know what that person is feeling until they speak. One of the problems we face today is that there is so much anxiety and fear, isolation and loneliness that many of our fellow human beings are unhappy and afraid, they are sometimes angry and even mean to each other.
If you talk to some who work in big box stores, you hear that people are not kind and thoughtful. Even some of the associates are now unpleasant to each other. It seems people’s nerves are raw and pain filled, and they express their fear and anxiety by being unpleasant to others. In these unusual days, we see great wondrous expressions of thankfulness for those who are on the front lines of this pandemic; we also see signs of impatience, meanness and disrespect for those who are working who have been deemed “essential.”
But it is not just in retail stores that unhappy and disturbed masked people try to avoid each other. There is also great unpleasantness in the places where the staff is seeking to take away fear from those who are ill or elderly in nursing homes, hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Nurses, doctors and administrators are seeking to meet the needs of a frightened society, and what is not needed is for tempers to be short and words cruel. So, I would like to make a suggestion to our masked society. If we could see the expression on your face, it would be a great help for we could somewhat surmise your kind of mood. Now, we cannot be safe and remove our masks so this for me is the solution. It is time to turn to Sesame Street and to the comic strip Peanuts. I would suggest on this walk that we have those who manufacture or create masks do so with the characters of Sesame Street and Peanuts on the masks themselves.
Now, let’s think about this for a moment. If you are in a bad mood and are going out among other masked people, put on the mask with the face of Oscar the Grouch. Now when we see you wearing that mask, we will try to avoid you or maybe we will try to cheer you up because you are having a bad day. If you are having a day of feeling kindness inside and of faith in others,then put on a Charlie Brown mask. He is an optimist over and over when he trusts that Lucy will really let him kick that football. And speaking of Lucy, if there is a woman who feels on a particular day that she has all the answers and is a somewhat mean psychologist, let her put on a Lucy mask. This pastor will not go near that masked person. The mask with the face of Big Bird indicates there is a kind and friendly person behind that mask. How about Pigpen? Hey that guy who works hard or that woman who is working hard in her garden for her family and for beauty, maybe that person needs to be told to stop working so hard.
Laughter is such a wonderful thing. To hear someone chuckling or to hear what we call a belly laugh – well, that is Elmo. And if you are just happy with the day that God has given you, then maybe you should wear the mask of Sally Brown. If you need someone to comfort you, might I suggest Linus. Sometimes all of us need a security blanket. Maybe you would just like to be someone admired and to hear a devoted word – why you could wear the mask/face of the Little Red-Haired Girl.
Now you can tell I am much more acquainted with Peanuts than I am with Sesame Street. Oh sure, I know Cookie Monster,and if you wear that mask, we know how to please you and that a good mood would come if we gave you a cookie. I might like to wear that mask when my wife, Dale, has been baking cookies; that’s for sure.
I am lonely for company, too. I miss hugging the other members of my family, and I sure wish we could get together. And yes, sometimes I am anxious and upset. I love people, and I hate this separation. But our separation must not make us antisocial and unpleasant. I hope my walk with you has brought a smile behind that mask, and that you might consider each morning what mask you would choose to wear. Let me know in the comment place if you wish. But let there be a secret face inside our hearts – let that be the face of Jesus our Lord. And remember each day, and I will too, that Jesus teaches us to be kind even when we are frightened and must wear a mask. Choose the mask you wish but let the love of Jesus be in your words and in the treatment of others. Our Lord was kind, infinitely kind.
I know that I did not walk with you today speaking of Memorial Day. Next week I will share some of the stories of Buddy and Alan, Chet and Wayne. They were all a part of the Great Generation.
Oh, and on purpose, I did not mention the mask of Miss Piggy. I’ll let you figure how that person might be acting.
Until next week – “May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”