The gentle folk who come to visit, with much love and good intentions, of converting me to their way of thinking, usually end up hurrying away, carefully crossing themselves, after offering to pray for me. They sit in my lounge room, they drink my tea, they look at my bookcases and their eclectic mix from gardening and cooking to theology and exorcism, and their faces close down and the pretty masks they wear start to crack.
My friends might think me a little odd, but that’s probably because of the dust bunnies under the lounges, because I never try to encourage their conversion to my beliefs, but I tend to drop my masks with my friends .. because a true friend is not someone you should have to ‘hide’ from. Oh yes, if you have unusual habits and fetishes you might want to hide them, but who knows what skeletons they have in their closets?
I’ve been thinking about masks lately, with all this violent objection to ladies of the Muslim faith wearing burkas, and the necessity of them disrobing in front of security guards, usually male ones, before entering government buildings. I understand the necessity for security, particularly now with I.S. and other terrorist groups doing their bit to make themselves famous by destroying innocent lives, but what does that have to do with the average Muslim who walks our streets, shops in our, and their, shopping centres (since many of them are Australian)? If they end up carrying concealed weapons, they won’t be any different from the average thug with religious or non-religious parents, and they’ll be forced to do it because society seems determined to blame ALL Muslims for one small group – happily forgetting, if they even know about it, the various Inquisitions that destroyed so many good ‘Catholic’ folk and other Christian groups, the extermination of the Jews by Hitler and other dictators, and the constant harassment of people of homosexual and lesbian nature, who continue to be born thousands of years after the various bibles condemned them. Now where is God in that, if God creates all things in ITS image? But that’s another subject.
So many masks. I’d more fear Wednesday Addams and her “I’m a homicidal manic, they look just like everyone else” (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family_(film)) than I would a woman who is honouring her God, her religion, and her family, by keeping her face covered in public. At least that ‘mask’ is easily removed. How do I discover whether the visible smiling face of the next stranger doesn’t hide a tiger?
There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
(My tiger and his kitten)
And that leads me to the seven deadly sins, which generally provides the mask.
Let’s add a few more.
And there’s even more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins#Acedia and others, but I am getting sidetracked again.
Which masks are yours? You see, we don’t wear just one, we wear many, in many layers, and sometimes we can get lost behind more than one, and can take months or years, or countless therapy, to ‘find ourselves’, the true ‘self’, behind all the ‘covers’. Some of them are provided by childhood programming, some of them are karmic, some of it is just sheer nastiness (or is that laziness), and some provided by fear. Some new age teachers call this our ‘shadow nature’, the part of ourselves we have to learn to accept, or better yet, release and never return to. Do I have the strength, or courage, to undo myself, to expose my heart to human judgement (mine), as I slip and slide through the mind field on a major life change that demands so much of me! Of course I do, or I wouldn’t be doing it .. I’d crawl back into my hole and hide.
Well, I stopped hiding many years ago, or so I thought, when I opened the first spiritual healing centre in a country town with 4 cathedrals and 17 churches – talk about over-exposed. The really interesting thing, during all those years, was that only one minister came to visit, condemned me for the pretty rocks on my window sills (crystals ..) without asking what I did, or didn’t, use them for .. (handy but generally not used by me) .. before stomping off down the stairs to take his three and four year old children to deepest Africa to be ‘missionaries’. That was during the Aides epidemic there, now we have Ebola. Have the missionaries come home? I had to wonder why he was exposing his children to all sorts of diseases, and physical dangers, just so he could prove something to someone .. because it wasn’t God. Good works don’t save us, only Grace does. This was many years ago, and I hope they came home safely. I left that town long before they returned.
Masks .. which one are you going to put on today? Will it be the ‘smile in the face of adversity’, or the sulking one because you didn’t get your own way? How about the frazzled one when someone yells at you and you can’t work out either what you did, didn’t do, or whatever it was that triggered it? Tomorrow will be the dutiful daughter mask as I take my mother to a town an hour away, just to go plant shopping (one of her great loves). I hope we get to eat Chinese food for lunch.
And the tiger cat beside me just launched himself onto the desk, where he is ‘loving-up’ the printer and my forehead before turning up his tummy to be rubbed. Now he is the tiger to watch .. 3 rubs and he might bite. Shall I chance it?