Padre’s Corner: The masks we wear

St. Brendan’s Chapel at CFB Halifax.
Photo: CFB Halifax

Padre’s Corner: The masks we wear

By Capt Glen Eagleson,
Fleet Chaplain

Prior to our current pandemic state, I can remember seeing someone wearing a mask out in public and thinking something along the lines of, “what’s wrong with them”, “that looks weird”. In times gone by, like 6 months ago, if you walked into the corner store wearing a mask you would probably be reported to the police. Now it has happened, wearing masks has become mainstream, more dictated than a trend, but it has become normal. Well, the new normal, that is.

If you are like me you’ve discovered several problems with wearing a mask; they are uncomfortable – pulling on your ears and nose, they are a nuisance – they never seem to stay on your face, and like reading glasses, they are never where you need them. But, one of the main issues I’ve discovered about wearing a mask is you lose a lot of nonverbal cues about how others are feeling/doing. Is that person smiling or frowning, do I say ‘hello’ or ‘what’s wrong’? Is my spouse thinking what a wonderful person I am, or will I hear about this when we get home? All those non-verbal cues are gone as everyone hides behind a mask. But actually, wearing masks is nothing new. We’ve all tried to hide behind a mask at some point, trying to hide who we really are. Rick Warren once said, “Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.”

As hard as it is to wear an actual mask on your face, the masks we hide behind are equally, if not more, problematic. If we hide behind a mask, how will anyone know how to interact with us in a meaningful way? What’s really going on behind that mask? Most of the time we wear these masks so that others will not know who I really am. What would they think? And it’s exhausting.

We are all hopeful for the day when we no longer need to wear a mask out in public, life will seem so much better when we do. Let me suggest to you that life can be so much better when we can get rid of all the masks we are wearing. Remember, your chaplain is always available to talk through any issues you may be dealing with.