“We wear the mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes – – this debt we pay to human guile; with torn and bleeding hearts we smile, and mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise, and counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while we wear the mask.
We smile, but, oh great Christ, our cries– to thee from tortured souls arise. We sing, but oh the clay Is vile– beneath our feet, and long the mile; but let the world dream otherwise, we wear the mask!”
I wonder what kind of masks you have worn in your life. Party masks, costume masks, masks made of clay.
The hardest masks to remove are the ones that are not seen. Church seems to be a really good place for wearing masks. You would think it would be the other way around. In an ideal world, that would be the place where the mask would come off.
Too often, the unspoken message of “should” gets in the way of letting the face be seen. And with the face, comes the vulnerability of an open heart.
So often, I hear a woman say that showing another person who I am in terms of story, sexual orientation, unseen pain, or just plain weariness can seem too much.
I wonder what spaces you have found for taking down the mask? Who are the people that you gift with your face? And what would it take to be willing to step in to that kind of vulnerability.
Behind the mask lives your story. The real one.
I dare you….
From the Lenten Poetry Companion, Mystic Activists, Neighborhood Ministries
“We wear the mask” from The Complete Poems is Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co, 1913.