The older I get, the more my mask slips from time to time, revealing the scary me underneath. Sometimes it's a shocker, both to me and the unfortunate person from whom I'm trying to hide.
Masks are comfortable. I can, at any moment, with lightning speed, change my mask up or down as the occasion demands.
For a book signing, I can be the extrovert I'm not.
For church, I can put on the mask with the spiritual smile plastered on, hiding whatever pain or uncertainty crowds my thoughts that day.
For my family, I can be the wise matriarch who always knows the best course of action in any circumstance.
You have your own. Your masks are unique to your life experiences, your temperament, your dreams-even the dreams you hide from others because they'll never become reality anyway.
And there are any number of mask peddlers out there, willing to sell you a new one for a price.
The price? Yes, the price. The price is intimacy. With family, friends, neighbors. After all, we can't possibly let them see the real us! The messy us, the one we see in the mirror every day, the us behind our eyelids.
Wouldn't it be refreshing if we collected our masks and had a bonfire? We could bring hot dogs and marshmallows and revel in getting to know each other, the way God intended us to know each other. The way he knows us. We could talk, really talk. And listen, really listen.
And maybe we'd find that under our masks we're his beloved children, made in his image. We'd see that we resemble him, that the masks are a cheap imitation of the faces and souls he gave us, and what we want others to see in us will never be the pure gold he's already given us.
And so, I give you MASKS...a skit I played around with several years ago:
HELEN: HI, BARBARA! SORRY TO JUST DROP IN, BUT I WAS IN THE AREA AND THOUGHT I’D STOP TO SEE HOW YOU’RE DOING. I MISSED YOU IN CHURCH LAST WEEK.
BARBARA: OH, THANK YOU, HELEN! YOU’RE SUCH A GOOD FRIEND!
HELEN: SO, WERE YOU SICK OR SOMETHING?
BARBARA: NO, I WASN’T SICK. I JUST HAD TO GO SHOPPING.
HELEN: OH! SHOPPING? ON SUNDAY MORNING? THAT’S NOT LIKE YOU. WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO GO SHOPPING FOR? MEDICINE?
BARBARA: NO, LET ME SHOW YOU. (THE TWO WOMEN GO TO A SMALL TABLE, WHERE SEVERAL ITEMS ARE STREWN ABOUT.)
HELEN: YOU HAD TO SHOP FOR SOAP?
BARBARA: NO, SILLY, NOT THE SOAP! THESE! (SHE HOLDS UP SEVERAL MASKS.
HELEN LOOKS CONFUSED.)
HELEN: WELL ….. OK. (SHE TAKES ONE OUT OF BARBARA’S HANDS.) WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE THESE FOR, BARBARA? ARE YOU HAVING A PARTY?
BARBARA, LOOKING EXASPERATED WITH HER FRIEND: NO, HELEN! (SHE PUTS ONE UP TO HER FACE.) WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS IT ME?
HELEN: WELL, FRANKLY, NO! IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S A MASK! (HELEN LAYS THE MASK SHE’S HOLDING DOWN ON THE TABLE.) BARBARA, WHAT ARE THESE MASKS FOR?
BARBARA: THEY’RE MY CHURCH MASKS! AREN’T THEY CUTE? AND EVERY ONE OF THEM IS SMILING!
HELEN: CHURCH MASKS? HUH? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
BARBARA: WELL, YOU DON’T THINK I WANT PEOPLE TO SEE MY REAL FACE, DO YOU? THEY MIGHT SEE THE REAL ME! YOU KNOW, THE ONE WHO’S SAD SOMETIMES, OR SINS SOMETIMES, OR THE ONE WHO CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO? THESE MASKS WILL HIDE WHAT’S GOING ON SO NO ONE WILL KNOW. AND I HAVE OTHERS! SEE? RIGHT HERE IN THIS DRAWER. (PULLS OUT DRAWER TO REVEAL DOZENS OF MASKS LABELED AND ORGANIZED.)
HELEN, LAUGHING AT HER FRIEND: OH, HONEY! WE NEED TO TALK. LET’S GO HAVE SOME COFFEE. AND LEAVE THOSE CRAZY MASKS BEHIND, OK? I WANT TO TALK TO THE REAL YOU, NOT THE YOU WHO HIDES BEHIND ONE OF THOSE MASKS! (THE TWO WOMEN WALK OUT TOGETHER.)
Deb Gorman (the real one!)