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Across the Pastor’s Desk: A mask cannot hide our hearts

Across the Pastor’s Desk by George Marin

One year ago, our lives changed forever. With the introduction of COVID to our lives, much fear, anxiety and worry were unleashed upon many people. Social distancing, lockdowns, vigilant hygiene and mask mandates became a part of our lives. From my perspective, masks have become the most controversial topic of this time. From global leaders, experts in renowned health organizations, and well known physicians, to the person on the street, opinions and data vary on the effectiveness of the mask. And, in these unusual times, so many act like experts.

George Marin

It’s interesting how one tiny thing like a piece of cloth held with a couple of strings can cause such enormous chasms between even the closest of friends. Who would’ve thought such a small item could cause such severe divisions? I have witnessed utter hatred spewed out on social media, and in-person, over cloth. I won’t debate this topic either way. I, personally, as a community leader, honor others by wearing my mask.

Reflecting on the past year, some thoughts come to mind about masks.

1) A majority of us have worn masks long before the pandemic. We can hide what we don’t want revealed behind certain pretenses. We might smile or act happy when we’re really not. We might act as though we like someone when we don’t, etc.

2) Most of us, at times, want something to hide behind. It might be an excuse that we use so we don’t have to participate in something. It might be busyness, denial or even ignorance, that we choose to use to our benefit, to not address certain issues.

3) There are things from which a mask will not shield us. A mask won’t protect our hearts (mind, will and emotions). No mask, no matter how sophisticated, will shield us from emotional, mental or spiritual pain.

4) There are things a mask won’t hide. A mask, although covering our mouth and nose, cannot hide inner pain, anguish, anger or rage. No mask can hide what someone is experiencing emotionally, mentally or spiritually behind a piece of fabric. Eventually, it will be revealed, and no mask can shield anyone else from being on the receiving end of someone’s lashings, when they are in full rage. The mask is not a muzzle nor a bridle; it’s just fabric. On the other hand, a mask, even though it covers the mouth and nose, does not cover the eyes. People’s eyes and hearts reveal everything about them.

Over the past year, I have learned much about people by looking into their eyes. In passing, I have seen deep pain, hurt and anger in some; and in others, I have seen kindness, joy, happiness, purity and purpose. I have stopped some and have thanked them for the kindness I see in their eyes. Some have started to cry when I have spoken that to them. Others have said, “I wish you could see my smile behind my mask, as you spoke those words to me.”

The mask cannot and will not hide what is in our hearts. If there is pain, hate, anger, anxiety or rage in our hearts, it will eventually be revealed and come out against those closest to us, or even against complete strangers. And, if there is peace, love, joy, kindness and good purpose in our hearts, no mask will ever be able to hide that. I’m so grateful for the eyes that have shown me and others that a piece of cloth cannot separate a joyful heart and kindness, even among strangers. A mask can never hide a smiling heart!

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.” Ps 51:10-13.

George Marin is a pastor at Grace Christian Church.