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Who Was That Masked Man?

I never thought I would own such a variety of face masks. My first one was sewn by a friend when the idea of masks was first introduced. She knows me well, and my initial mask sported material themed with coffee cups and coffee pots…so cute. I have some disposable masks for those just-in-case situations. I used a cowboy-type bandana a couple of times, but I was having trouble with keeping it tied correctly so that I could move it on and off as needed. Looking on line (at the recommendation of a friend), I found a choice of scarf masks that were designed with floral and paisley patterns and had elastic ear loops. I ordered two to take the place of my previously described bandana. We purchased some of the neck gaiters for times when there would be greater amounts of activity and movement. I made a recent purchase of a four-pack of stretchable, durable, and breathable Costco masks. I am now the proud owner of a plethora of face coverings.

In 1933 there was a radio show that featured a hero named the Lone Ranger. This former Texas Ranger wore a mask over his eyes to hide his true identity. The story goes that he was the lone survivor of a posse of six who were ambushed by a civilian traitor. An Indian friend, Tonto, found him and helped revive him. The Lone Ranger, aka John Reid, dug a sixth grave to make it appear that he died with the other victims. He then made it his life mission to hunt down the gang who killed the others, one of whom was his brother. Long after the gang was captured, John continued to fight for justice. He went after outlaws, and he helped bring hope and peace to the American Old West.

The Lone Ranger was featured in a television series from 1949-1957. He was the subject of many comic books, and a number of movies have been made to tell his story. One of the things that the towns people would ask as he rode off on his horse after a victory was, “Who was that masked man?” It seemed he was always able to keep his identity a secret.

We have all been experiencing a bit of this intrigue as we are required to wear masks in most public places these days. It is difficult to recognize people when half their face is covered. I find myself asking, “Who is that masked person?” I have actually said hi to someone who I thought I knew, and it ended up not being that person. I have probably not acknowledged someone who I did know but didn’t recognize.

My dad was an identical twin. He and his brother attended the same college and seminary, lived in fairly close proximity to each other in their early ministries, and took part in the same conferences and general church meetings. They would often be approached by someone they didn’t know who would expect a friendly greeting. Not everyone realized that there was an identical match out there for the pastor and friend that they knew. This caused some problems early on, as some would be offended that their pastor did not acknowledge them. They began to realize that they should just smile and wave at everyone that passed by.

This is my new goal when I am out and about. I plan to wave and wear my best masky-smile toward everyone I pass. If I know them, great! If it is someone I don’t know, maybe I’ll make a new friend. My life mission will be to fight for peace and hope in our crazy Covid world. They may ask, “Who is that masked woman?” I hope that they will sense that there is a bit of Jesus behind the covering.

Long after the mask mandate is lifted, I want to continue being that one who fights for peace and hope. Even if we can see each other’s full faces, people often mask their inner pain, insecurities, or fears. My mission will be the same, and my plan won’t change: wave and smile at everyone I pass. With or without all those stylish masks I've purchased, I pray that God will speak deep into the heart and soul of others through a simple and sincere caring gesture. Will you join me in spreading the love of Jesus to those you see?

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