When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his scarf and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

I Kings 19:13a (TLB)

We’ve been covering our faces for a long time. Remember the Lone Ranger? One of the good guys, he was known for his mask but it was usually the bad guys who covered their faces. They wanted to protect their identity in an effort to avoid the law.

Brides often wear veils to cover their faces. The custom goes back to the times when the lifted wedding veil represented the handover of the bride from her father’s home to her husband’s.

Elijah wrapped his face as a sign of reverence of God. Moses hid his face when the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush for the same reason.

Today, we are wearing them to protect each other from another kind of invisible threat, COVID-19. My neighbor, who works in the medical field, gave me five masks at the beginning of the quarantine and told me to wear them. He said they couldn’t hurt.

I sat in the car, debating whether to put it on the first time I went to the grocery store. At that point, very few were wearing them and I felt a little silly. But I remembered that he reminded me that I was doing it more for Mark than for me. I don’t have those underlying health issues that make you so susceptible but Mark does.

Care and concern for our neighbor is a sign of love and sacrifice, embodied in the face mask. It is confining, hot, irritating, and wearisome. Can you tell that it’s not my favorite? But I care more about those I love than my own inconvenience, so I put it on.

Jesus was inconvenienced daily. He couldn’t get away from the crowds that pushed at him, touched his clothes, followed him everywhere, stayed through dinner, criticized and taunted him. But, He didn’t let it get to Him. He met the needs of this throng of people with patience, kindness, and compassion. He cared more about them than His own needs. In fact, He understood isolation because that was the only way He could get some alone-time with His Father.

This quarantine has not been easy and the after affects may last for many months. We may have a collection of face masks  — I now have two. But, the virus appears to be waning. Life may open back up relatively soon. I pray that we will continue to love our people, stay in contact with those both near and far, use the new technology we’ve learned to create new modes of communication. I look forward to being able to move freely, hug my family and friends, and resume a somewhat “normal” routine.

I’ll remember the era of the face mask with sadness as many have lost their lives. But, also, with wonder for our new heroes who daily fight it — the sleep-deprived doctors and nurses who are faithful to the task of fighting this disease. We applaud you and may God bless you.

I saw some pictures taken during the Spanish flu in 1918. They all had masks on, too. My grandgirlies will tell the story of the Spring of 2020.