I really wonder how many face masks have been produced and purchased over the last ten months. It’s actually pretty hard to figure out an accurate count, because companies like 3M reported that they made 2 Billion masks last year (up from 550 million in 2019). Of course, outside the manufacturing sector, you have all sorts of folks with sewing machines creating all sorts of fancy and trendy masks. Isn’t it just like the human nature to take something so mundane and bland, and when it becomes something that just about everyone has to wear, it quickly becomes a fashion statement or full of bling or who knows what. I know that when Cheri gets to work at about 7am, she walks in wearing a mask, and it stays on until I pick her up at 5pm (outside of lunch in her office). She has actually taken to wearing two masks, since the blue paper one is required by her clinic, but it was irritating her face – she now has a soft white mask that is completely covered by the blue one. I know for my own wearing that I put the mask on at the very last second before I have to go into a grocery store or such, and it is off and in my pocket after about 20 steps when I am socially distanced. I really hate, detest, despise and do not like those things at all. Ever.
Still, the reports are that worldwide, folks and institutions this past year bought over $106 billion – with a “b” – worth of masks.
Now, of course you know that when you wear the standard blue paper mask, that it’s pretty much a once and done proposition. Actually, it’s becoming a real issue of ocean pollution as millions are dumped with the rest of the garbage in places where nothing should ever be dumped. However, when you spend a little of your hard-earned money to buy a cloth mask, it’s not something you want to just flip into the trash at the end of the day. In fact, I have been a horrible offender at wearing my cloth mask – one left in each car – for many weeks, which probably looks to the world like I’m an old prospector who chews tobacco. They left behind any pretense of being nice white masks. They were more “beige,” or “ecru” and probably not very effective anymore.
So – I bought some new masks. Same kind, from Amazon, since I knew they fit my face and didn’t make me look like a shark swimming through the waters. Of course, when the new ones came, one of them fit perfectly, and the other one, from the same company, same material, same style, was a good three or four sizes too small. Hence, the Cheri mask. Still, I had two relatively good, although kind of dirty face masks to deal with. Now, I have read all sorts of articles about the best way to clean face masks, with all sort of antibacterial and other special doo-dads, but once again, my medical wife came to the rescue: “Just throw them in with your other laundry – you aren’t performing surgery, and you really aren’t that close to anyone these days.” That seemed like a bit of condemning statement, but it’s true – any number of days, besides driving Cheri to work and picking her up again, I’m home and safe in my own little corner of the world.
So, into the wash they went. When they came out of the dryer, I have to admit I was amazed at how white something could once again become! They were beautiful, and fresh and ready to fight CoVid at every turn. I may even go to the store today, just to show them off. By the way, if you decide to wear a mask, which you should unless you live up in northern Alaska in a cabin by yourself, please make at least a minimal effort to have the mask cover both your mouth and your nose… I have been utterly amazed at how many people (many of them elderly, who are most susceptible) walk around with the semblance of a mask, as it droops down to their upper lip, while their nose continues to breathe in and out, receiving and offering who knows what into the atmosphere. Don’t do that, ok?
So wash day is done, and now I even have a mask in reserve. My question however has less-bright tone to it. For how long? What’s the day, the date, the moment of celebration when we can walk into the grocery store or the convenience store, and everyone can see our complete beautiful faces? When will this dumb era of life end, and we no longer have to walk around with only half of ourselves to be recognized, and stuck in the world of masks? God knows, I’m sure, and I wait for God’s careful and clear message. Just to note: wearing the mask is essential for CoVid, but it also appears to be helping shut down the flu epidemic that rages about this time every year…
Once again, be intentional – that is, intend to do the right thing, and take care of yourselves and your world. “Remember: it will all be well in the end. If it is not yet well, then it is not yet the end…” (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).
Word for the day: jouska. Pronounced JOW-ska. Ok – it’s not really an official word, having been made up by an author to describe something happening in our present world. It’s something all of us have done from time to time. The word means to have a hypothetical conversation with another person inside your own head. As you walk through the conversation that really doesn’t exist, you are able to make your best points and arguments, you have a wonderful dialogue, and even some stinging comebacks. It’s a conversation/argument that you always win, because it’s between your two ears. When I would drive thousands of miles in my last time of work, I would frequently have jouskas, or jouska with others – it’s not clear if it is a noun or a verb, so anything goes. It’s really an exercise to clear the head, and to move past getting caught in a conversation that you can’t win. Not a bad word, but maybe you want to keep it to yourself…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.