By Sister Nancy Linenkugel
Among our precautions against the spread of Covid-19, in addition to distancing, hand washing, and hand sanitizing, is the use of wearing face masks in the presence of others.
I have two face masks. One mask is from my sister-in-law shared in early April when she transformed her quilt-making studio into a face mask sewing operation. The other face mask is from an orchestra friend who purchased masks in bulk and shared one with me.
I appreciate having both and I use both. The commercially-made mask is all black but the mask from my sister-in-law is colorful material and reversible. I don’t mind wearing these masks at all since it’s a sign of respect for others to wear a face mask. I might not have the Covid-19 germs to spread, but how do I know for sure? Symptoms don’t show up for two weeks after exposure.
Eyeglass wearers like me struggle with just one thing: home-made and commercially-made face masks that don’t have a nose-hugging clip have the same problem: eyeglasses fog up just by wearing the mask and breathing. I say to myself, “Breathe only when necessary,” but those necessary breaths under a face mask make it impossible to see out of fogged-up glasses.
I was sitting in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel before mass recently, faithfully under a mask and enduring foggy glasses. But then I made a discovery. Wearing a face mask, when you exhale, your glasses fog up. But when you inhale, the fogginess goes away, just like a car defroster. Exhale and fog up. Inhale and fog down. Exhale. Inhale. Hmmm, how do I inhale more than I exhale? Maybe the significance of inhaling is being filled with the spirit. What is the passage…”He must increase, while I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:30)
Several years ago one of the celebrity narrators for a patriotic concert presented by the Medical Musical Group based in Washington DC, a choir and orchestra in which I’ve played for 25 years, was the actor Michael York. Because he was doing part of the concert narration and I was giving the audience welcome on behalf of the group, he and I had the opportunity to chat back stage. Mostly he wanted to know how to pronounce my name in order to introduce me. That gave me the opportunity to tell him that of all the actors I’ve ever seen portray John the Baptist, he was my very favorite from the JESUS OF NAZARETH movie. You, Michael York, were the perfect John the Baptist in my mind.
Mr. York was very gracious, thanked me for the comment, and went on to say that portraying John the Baptist was the most difficult of any role he’s ever played. “It’s all about that decreasing business. Actors don’t like to decrease themselves but instead try to fill the stage with their presence. In portraying John the Baptist, I struggled with decreasing enough so that Christ could increase and be the larger character. I truly tried to do that.”
You did, Michael. You definitely did. You were very Franciscan whether you knew that or not.
And so under the face mask with foggy glasses if I can just inhale more than exhale, I’ll be able to see clearly. I must decrease…