Taking Off Our Masks
Some of us put a great deal of time and effort into Halloween. We decorate and stock up on extremely sweet treats. Many of us have Halloween traditions we have been looking forward to for almost an entire year.
Most significant of all, we choose, put together, and implement our costumes. The most challenging part of many costumes is our mask.
Even with an excellent outfit, people can still tell who we are without a good mask.
Halloween can be a lot of fun, but ultimately it comes down to one moment. There may be a chill in the air or it could be unseasonably warm. Whatever else happens, we each get to the point where we are taking off our masks.
For some of us, with really good masks, taking off our masks is a revelation.
While Halloween may be over for another year, there is more to it.
Some of us immediately start planning for next year’s Halloween. We get to find out how much candy we have left and evaluate our holiday experience. There may be ways we want to remember and improve next year.
The moment we begin taking off our masks we return to being our usual selves. Reflecting on our experience could show us something we can apply the next day.
Taking off our masks can be the most powerful moment of Halloween.
We have faced, or even become, what we most fear and can now remove our disguises.
Halloween has deep spiritual roots and reflects deep spiritual truths. It is a day for recognizing the masks we wear and finding ways to remove them.
What Masks Do We Wear?
For many people Halloween is a holiday for celebrating their everyday experiences.
Our fears, even the unconscious ones, cause us to want to either fight or flee. We have, possibly without even realizing it, put on a series of masks to protect ourselves.
Our lives can either be hidden by elaborate masks or full of moments of taking off our masks.
Each of us wears masks. We may be comfortable or uncomfortable in them. Our masks may be decorated in great detail or look almost like real life. There are masks we have chosen to wear and others of which we are not even aware.
Some people hold onto their masks as if their lives depended on them. Others spend time and effort to remove them.
What are the everyday masks we wear? We may wear our education as a mask, or our emotional intelligence. Our analytical intellect may be one of our favorite masks, or our physical beauty and strength. We might be trying to mask ourselves with money or power, with work or family.
Some people, ironically, try to use spiritual life as a mask to shield themselves.
We want to protect ourselves from what we fear by hiding behind masks.
Some of our masks are intricate and complicated while others are simple and basic. We may construct our own masks or inherit them from other people. The masks we wear may disguise our most recognizable features. They may be just enough so people confuse us with someone else.
We hope our masks will hide our true selves and protect us.
Like on Halloween, we wear masks so we are not identified. It may be we hope other people will treat us well. We may want to avoid responsibility for what we have done.
Taking Off Our Masks Can Take a Lifetime
For many of us, taking off our masks can take a lifetime.
Whether we have chosen our masks deliberately or not they help us feel safe. Taking off our masks is often more of a struggle than putting them on.
Some of us travel the journey of taking off our masks one step at a time. Each mask we remove is an intentional step toward where we want to go. We may have discovered the costs of wearing our masks over time. It will take us time and effort to set them aside.
Each step can be a struggle to put one foot in front of the other.
Other people wake up to the challenges of their masks more dramatically. They begin to see their masks for what they are, often as the result of a painful experience.
Even their dramatic insights are only the beginning of removing their masks. Taking off our masks is a process that lasts the rest of our lives.
We may have grown so accustomed to wearing a mask we feel naked without it. We may be unaware we continue to wear masks. There may be masks we do not believe we can live without.
Spiritual life draws us into the Sacred truths of the universe, including our true selves. We practice opening ourselves to the presence and power of spiritual life. Our practice reassures us we do not need to wear masks.
Spiritual life encourages us to begin, and continue, taking off our masks. Each mask we remove strengthens us to take off the next one.
The Joys of Taking Off Our Masks
We may have an amazing collection of masks. Our masks may be vibrant, radiant, stunning in their beauty and functionality. Each one may be a masterpiece we can be proud to own.
When we are wearing masks without realizing it, though, we do not own them. They confine us and hold us against our will.
The masks we wear restrict us and keep us from being seen clearly. Wearing a masks is being dishonest with the people around us.
A person wearing a mask is defined by the mask they wear, not the mask by the person.
We may feel more secure wearing our masks, but that is not true.
The joy of taking off our masks is we can be recognized for who we really are.
When will we be taking off our masks this week?
How will we know when we are wearing masks without realizing it?
What masks are we wearing today?
[Image by EEPaul]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.