Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Mask

I was very skeptical, although, I didn't say anything. Jose' was quite excited about his friends coming  to lead the retreat for our "11th Hour" class participants.  The retreat was to be the final event for a  large group of our volunteer chaplains who had specifically trained to be with the dying.

Masks - making "soul" masks.  Seemed odd to me.  Oh, but the Divine has a way of using people, methods and events to let you know what you need to know.

My biggest surprise I think was that I felt like I was on retreat.  There in the Educational center auditorium, among all that is familiar at my work, I felt like I was away from the routine.  We listened to music, had guided meditation, read poetry - all in preparation for making our masks. I was being fed which hadn't happened in a long time.

The gist of the retreat was to shed the masks that we wear at work, with friends, with our loved ones and with ourselves.  What was our soul trying to tell us?  Who were we in our deepest recesses?  Who did God intend us to be?

After our centering exercises, with soothing music in the background, we moved from our circle to the garbage bag covered tables.  Before us was a plastic mask covered in white gesso.  We were to talk to our mask and see what emerged.  The leaders had brought all manner of material for us to use: pine cones, fabric, beads, "things," paint and more. I tried not to think but to feel my soul.  I began with a stroke of blue paint.  Coming up from the lip, curving around the cheek to the forehead.  I followed with a companion stroke of black.  Grey. White.  Purple.  Swirling and dabbing over the surface of my mask.  I felt light and energy and free.  I added glitter to the wet paint and stopped.  While my cohorts were making full use of all the craft materials, I stopped.  Finished.  Anything else would have been a caricature of what my soul was telling me.

Our leaders - Cathy and Kathy - had different writing exercises to try if we completed our masks.  Haiku and Pantoum as well as "once upon a time."  I chose "dialog."  We were just to start writing - again not thinking. And so I did.  Rapidly, I scribbled this imaginary dialog with my soul and by the end, I was in tears.  Tricky Holy Spirit, getting to me when I least expect it.

My soul began:

"Why do you hide me away?"
"How should I know?"
"It's dark in here."
"Isn't it cozy?"
"I am light and energy."
"Maybe you'll burn up if I open myself up."
"Nonsense.  I am Divine."
"Oh, don't think much of yourself do you?"
"Why do you doubt?"
"I always doubt."
"But why?"
"Stop nagging."
"Are you afraid?"
"Of course I am."
"What if I don't like me?  That inner me? That soul me?"
"What's not to like?  Light and joy and Divine.
"What if others don't like the soul me?"
"Two answers:  Who gives a sh*t? and Why does it matter?  You are not defined by them.  God has refined you."
[deep breath in and exhale]
"You are spectacular. You sparkle."
"I do?  [chuckle] Dad was right."
"He called you Sparks."
"Fresh from the womb, unencumbered by roles or culture or family drama, he saw the fresh-from-God-soul you."
"And I sparkle."

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