I’m Ken Jones, and this is a Classic State of Mind, with a word about … Separation.

I had no idea, really, until I heard it on the news. In fact, I’ve heard it nearly every day, several times a day, for the past couple of weeks. I’m sequestered. I’m what my President and my society now classifies as ‘one of the most vulnerable.’ I’m not sick, mind you. My underlying health issues aren’t compromised. I’m just … old.

I guess I should be glad someone is looking out for a vulnerable old one like me. But, somehow, it’s brought little comfort or encouragement to me. In fact, the ‘looking out for me’ that my government, my society, my culture seems to be focused on isn’t what’s been on my mind, these days. Instead, the ‘sequestering’ I’m experiencing allows me to look ‘inward,’ and reflect on other realities; important things I need to notice, I think. Things about me and … Him. So, here are a few things I’ve noticed in the last few weeks:

  1. I need people in my life, and when there is an absence of people, I feel like something foundational is missing. Back in 1850, author named Thomas Haynes Bayly wrote a poem, titled “Isle of Beauty,” and the last line of that poem became an often-quoted saying: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I find myself ‘missing people’ more these days. Friends and colleagues I’m used to seeing on a regular basis. Oh, I know, there’s ‘social media’ we can take advantage of. I like that. I’m grateful for Facebook, and Facetime, and Zoom. I use all of those things every day, but somehow … it’s not the same, you know? I miss the real deal. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ll survive. I know that ‘this, too, shall pass.’ But the social distancing we’ve all been encouraged to practice has revealed in a more intense way something I’ve been convinced of for a long time: I need people in my life.
  2. Perhaps it’s my realization of that need that caused me to notice something else: Masks rob me of a lot. Of course, if you’re a ‘robber’ by profession, I suppose you’d view a mask as a great thing, because it hides your identity. But I’m not a robber. I’m just a guy trying to navigate a season in my life like everybody else. I know. Health officials have encouraged all of us to wear masks. I wear one, when I venture out to go to the grocery store. I have a terrible time understanding what someone is saying, if they’ve got a mask on. Seeing people in masks has a major impact in my engaging them in conversation or even exchanging greetings. I truly believe that one of the most creative things God has ever done was to fashion the human face. Facial expressions transmit all kinds of information that can be received, read and interpreted by others. We can produce thousands of different messages that provide cues to our overall emotional state, our mental well-being, our personality and mood, and a lot of other things. I’ve noticed about myself and my current place in life that I’d much rather read a facial expression than just see a mask that seems to separate us even further.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, in his second letter that veils have always been around. And, the veil — the mask that separated man from understanding what God was saying, the mask that prevented access to the very face and presence of God was the cruelest veil of all, until … Jesus came.

As I contemplate this season of my life, I am so grateful I don’t need Facetime to experience the fellowship and friendship of the God who made me, the God who loves me, the God who understands.

No. I don’t like wearing a mask. It separated me from people. (I don’t think God likes ‘em either.)

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