‘Masks and Make-Up’

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

This is the season of masks and make-up.  I remember so many disguises across the years.  Everything from a Pirate to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (I was the Beast!).  I’ve been Casper the Friendly Ghost and I’ve been a clown.  You have your history of masks and make-up as well.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a holiday like ‘Halloween’ for us to wear masks.  The word ‘persona’ from its Latin origin refers to a theatrical mask.  Persona is embedded in the word ‘personality’We all wear masks.  We are not who we really are with everyone.  Understandably, there is an element of trust that must be in place before we will ‘lower our mask’ and expose our inner self.  And yet this can cause us to be overly cautious with life and thus hardly ever lower our mask.  The result can be that we begin to be someone we really aren’t even at our deepest core.  In essence, we run a risk of losing ourselves by becoming professional ‘mask wearers’.

Perhaps this is one reason Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  This was not an invitation to become a narcissist.  Jesus never intended for any of us to be ‘self-absorbed’.  But Jesus must have known how tempting it is to hide from our pains and our hurts.  Jesus must have known how easy it would be to wear masks and disguise our real selves from others for fear of being unloved, not liked and rejected.  And yet Jesus also knew that unless we learn to love ourselves, we would have great difficulty in loving others.

It is said that “The more we know ourselves, the gentler we will be with others.”  No wonder there is much violence, consternation and hatred in our world.  We live in a world of disguised people who fear knowing themselves.  We are not gentle with others because if we can shout out the fault in someone else we think that means we won’t have to deal with our own faults.  So we wear masks and make-up in fear that someone might discover our real selves.

It is a journey to know our real selves.  Often a close and brutally honest friend or a Pastoral Counselor is needed to help us lower our masks and discover our real selves.  But one thing I know…God loves us warts and all.  It is in the acknowledgment of God’s unconditional love that really saves us from ourselves. 

So Happy Halloween and may you and I be about the journey of getting know ourselves.  Let’s lower our masks and acknowledge that God loves us all.  And remember…be gentle with yourself then you will be gentle with others.

Always Thinking…

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