Brilliant Disguise

Brilliant Disguise October 31, 2007

Hannah and Nunya on Halloween

Most free moments of this day have been spent eking out any last modicum of creativity left in the aftermath of the aforementioned Cree Indian craft projects.

Yes, we’ve dug through closets, rummaged in the backyard shed, visited the attic and consulted the Internet. With ingenuity that would make the US Patent Office proud, we are now awaiting nightfall with two Samurai warriors and one pirate (with accompanying canine pirate).

I don’t know how many more years we’ll be living this mad dash to come up with costumes on Halloween afternoon, but I strongly suspect that when it’s over I’ll be mourning the loss. Right now, though, I’m rather overwhelmed by the Herculean effort it takes to come up with these disguises.

Today, in between tying belts and affixing hoop earrings I got to thinking about the many ways in which we all undertake what also really amount to Herculean efforts at disguise-disguising ourselves from each other so that, as much as we can manage it, we’re presenting our “happy,” “wholesome,” and “successful” faces to the world.

Come to think about it, though it has taken three Halloween costumes to find its way to the blog, it has been several months that I’ve been thinking about this very phenomenon. What started my thinking was planning for Lent 2008 (My, don’t I sound organized. Don’t worry . . . it’s just a disguise) and the jarring realization that close to nobody wants to run to their church families and spill any kind of guts that might show ourselves to be hurting, vulnerable, sinful . . . human.

In fact, come to think of it, church is the last place some of us would come to confess or to break down, to ask for help or to find others to walk through the pain with us.  Doing that would mean we are vulnerable, needy . . . certainly not strong and self-sufficient.

No, it seems to me that most of us would much rather wake up every morning, rummage through our arsenal of disguises and come up with a brilliant disguise or, failing that, at least one good mask to take us through the day ahead.

In her book Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor notes “The call to serve God is first and last the call to be fully human.” If we call ourselves Christians then, presumably, we are called by God. Why, then, is it so very hard to take off our disguises and be fully human with each other?

I’m heading out in a few minutes for what may be one of my last years of trick-or-treating with kids. Before I step out I’ll probably don my usual witch costume, complete with hat, dress, spider earrings and black lipstick (save the comments-there are none Mark has not already made . . . many times). I’ll herd my little flock of Samurai warriors and pirate plus pirate dog down the street and as I do I’ll try to remember that, while donning a get-up for Halloween is awfully fun, doing it every single day for your whole life is just too, too hard.

The call to serve God is first and last the call to be fully human, to lay down the brilliant disguises we’ve used for so long and make room for others to take their masks off, too.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of our lives, then, is to respond to the call of God by being, well, exactly who we are: precious children of a loving creator.

And if we could possibly manage to take our disguises off long enough to do that, well, I think that would be . . . brilliant.


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