"Nothing is more real than the masks we make to show each other who we are."
Several years ago, about twenty-five or so, I was out on the streets in New Orleans screaming at floats for the bigger beads. Today is Fat Tuesday the last day to eat some King Cake, dig into the pancakes and shovel in the lard because tomorrow begins our journey into the Christian liturgical season of Lent. For those of you whose faith traditions do not celebrate, Lent represents the period leading up to Easter and is traditionally thought of as a period of 40 days. I often hear folks talking about how they will give up chocolate or fast food or chips for the season. One year, I actually gave up one of my biggest vices, diet Pepsi. I can vouch that for every day of that Lent Season, I thought about sacrifice and self-less giving in a different way and let me tell you that diet Pepsi I drank from the Easter bunny that morning is probably the best I have ever drank.
As I reflected upon the parades I saw years ago and the fun I had.
As I reflected upon all the many times I have tried to give up something to make me feel more spiritual and reflective but did not succeed.
As I reflected upon what it might be that I really needed to do this season I began to listen...all the while I was walking down the hallway of a hospital where I found myself behind an elderly gentleman being pushed in his hospital bed toward the elevators. I tried to honor his privacy as he was wheeled with tubes showing and urine bag hanging and his bed sheets strewn half on him and half off--- his age showing. I began to think about his untold courage--for at this point in his journey it did not appear that he was wearing a mask but was actually out there for the world to see in full view---his pain hanging in the folds of his face, his weakness showing in the difficulty he was having holding his head, his shame of being naked in front of the world hung in the air (or maybe perhaps it was my fear of being on display for the world that hung in my air that I tried to project upon him).
We all wear masks at some point in time. They hide our fears, sometimes give us false courage, cover our pain and sometimes cause us to lose our authentic self amongst the many faces we wear day to day. We think they help us to fit in and we wear them all so freely. Most of us have an entire closet of them and pull them of the shelf to meet the need at any given moment.
Somehow we were all born into the wonder of the Mystery and then as we grow, we start to allow others to make us feel less than superior. We gloss over our child wonder, we cover up the mystical energy, we pretend we are no longer interested in how the spider weaves his web or how the caterpillar burst forth from the cocoon.
they serve the purpose
hide the things we hope to hide
underneath the layers,
underneath the many coverings we use,
the creative gift of God awaiting its birth into the world.
so for Lent this year
don't give up your chocolate
go ahead and eat the whole damn box,
eat a bag of chips,
drink up those colas
take some time to self-reflect
open up to the courage the universe has for you and
ever so gently,
ever so delicately
Let's step out into the world
beginning slowly at a time,
and leave our masks
hanging on the shelf,
tucked in the closet,
hidden in the car.
Gift the world with the gift of You
I'm going to try.
I double dog dare you to do it too!
Go ahead,push the hair back and let the world see your eyes!