Masquerade

“Are we really happy here
With this lonely game we play?
Looking for words to say
Searching but not finding understanding anywhere
We’re lost in a masquerade”

(1976) “This Masquerade” Recorded By: George Benson Composer: Leon Russell

As I write this, it’s 104 degrees here in Dallas, Texas, with a heat index (What it feels like with the humidity factor.) of 118 degrees. The last thing I want to do is put on a mask.

If you read my blog posts you already know I don’t write about politics, or political favor, or rhetoric. (At least not directly.) Trust me, I won’t start today.

COVID-19 sure has delivered its punch in various ways. At first we were told masks were not necessary. Soon after, we were told to wear masks if ailing in health in order to protect others. Soon after, we were told to wear them in order to protect our own health from others who may be carriers. Before you know it, we were told to wear them in public regardless. Later we were told it might even be best to wear one in all indoor locations, outdoor locations, and when alone. ALONE? REALLY? So, if you’re hiking alone in the forest, you better have a mask over your big trap. Jeepers, I give up.

Let me start off by saying I want to do the right thing. I’m not one of the rebels you hear about who gets into fights at Walmart because of the lack of a mask on the mug. Beyond all of that nonsense, I have chronic health conditions which COVID-19 targets. To be frank, (and Alan, too) I must wear one when around other people until we have a vaccine. If I contract COVID-19 in my health state, I will most likely die. I know that sounds dark and gloomy, but it’s the truth. So, I do put the stupid thing on.

Me in my non-surgical mask.

Yep, that’s what I look like driving up to the bank teller. Times have changed. In case I forget it, I also have a fresh surgical-style mask in my car with the string around the ears.

Before you ask me, I do take off my sunglasses while in the grocery store. Which brings me to a very honest confession. Over the last few months of this pandemic, I slowly began to stop smiling at people I come in contact with. In fact, I find I no longer speak pleasantries to others as I push my buggy around. The only thing I can figure is that I feel hidden, as if no other shopper can see me. Isn’t that the dumbest statement you’ve ever read?

I sing in my church band, but that’s been nixed since the virus shut our normal church services down. For some odd reason I have grown, or shrunk, to feel I am a non-person in public. Therefore, since no one can see my mouth, cheeks, and chin, why bother to smile? Why speak since all is muffled. Mostly, when you feel hidden, what purpose is there to utter a word? Oooh, this sounds harsh. Am I making any sense?

Others must have the same syndrome because I see it in their eyes as they quickly look away from mine. What’s more, I don’t seem to mind the change I am seeing and feeling. Now, THAT’S sad.

If you saw the cover photo above the title, it might have given you smothering memories of Halloween-past. Remember how those loud, crackly plastic masks made your face sweat big-time? By the end of the night’s outing your face looked like it had ventured into a car wash. Then there’s the old saying, “You can throw me in jail but you can’t keep my face from breaking out.” How true of those days.

Speaking of retrospect, this reminds me of a familiar personal mode, which is far too common.

Mask, or not, sometimes we create our own masks. Don’t we? Not shields of cloth or plastic, but inner shields we default to. Like the ancient Greek actors holding up masks on sticks, we tend to hide our true selves in times of emotional turmoil, anger, and fear. As an artistic so-in-so, I buried myself in stage acting, or for various media. As a singer, I would dive into the lyrics, which drove my stage presence to another level different than who I really was. When I began to settle in my radio and voice-over career, I felt more at ease behind a mic in a control room all by myself, even though there were 200,000+ listeners on the other end of the speakers. In short, I allowed these areas in my life to become masks on sticks to hold up in front of my face…which in translation means: Emotions. If thin in some section of the persona, or physical appearance department, we tend to mask it with other tools from abilities, or our personal strengths. This is why most comics, actors, singers, writers are very often shy in their everyday-jeans.

At the same time, if we could only recall that there is Someone Who knows us, every line and wrinkle. There was a purpose for the scripture which states, God has counted every hair on our heads. There was a purpose for the scripture which states, God knitted our tendons inside our mother’s womb. There was a purpose for the scripture which states, God not only knew us in our mother’s womb, but also made plans for our lives, good plans to oversee.

Pay very close attention to the passage below for emphasis. Please don’t miss this. Notice how Jesus uses His words when meeting a man named, Nathanael for the very first time. Check it out.

***

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, the One the prophets foretold—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do You know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

“Rabbi,” Nathanael answered, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus said to him, “Do you believe just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” – John 1:45-50 (Berean Study Bible)

***

No doubt, Nathanael ran back home and shouted, “Look Ma, no mask!”

Although your Creator sees straight through the mask you hold up, others cannot. I will work harder in communicating to others through my eyes. (I’ll act my way through it. LOL)

Knowing, and being known is discovered in fuel for the race.

“And when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was unaware that his face had become radiant from speaking with the LORD. Aaron and all the Israelites looked at Moses, and behold, his face was radiant. And they were afraid to approach him….When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would remove the veil until he came out. And when he came out, he would tell the Israelites what he had been commanded, and the Israelites would see that the face of Moses was radiant. So Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD. – Exodus 34:29-30 & 34-35 (Berean Study Bible)

 

17 Replies to “Masquerade”

  1. It’s especially challenging to those of us who are largely housebound, even without the pandemic. I’m so thankful for the internet and social media so I can still interact with others, but they have to imagine my smile. I always pray to be able to be a blessing to someone that day. The Lord wowed me with one yesterday. What I’d said indeed had blessed someone in a way neither of us had expected. Rejoicing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As a directing major I love to see passages like this one interpreted creatively. I remember a gospel movie that showed Nathanael under the fig tree – praying? At one point a breeze kicked up, and by the look on Nathanael’s face he was feeling the presence of God. So later when Jesus said He saw him under the fig tree, it was clearly significant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I know you know I relate. I miss smiling at people, especially young ones. And I love what you pulled out here on the subject of masks emotionally speaking. I have been practicing that sort of masking most of my life. It comes with the territory when you are the odd duck in the room. 😏 Very grateful for the connections that can yet be made on here. Also, to let you know, my kids made it through their first school week properly masked and socially distanced without a hitch. God is so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think one of the worst things this virus has done is make us afraid to reach out to other people. Like you, I no longer smile or say hello to someone in a store (because they can’t see my mouth, and also because we’ve been trained to see other people as a threat), unless I really think about it and then make a special effort. Which, as you’ve pointed out, we all need to do. Becoming unconnected from each other is a huge part of what’s wrong with our nation and our world, and we can’t let the Covid virus make it even worse! Great post, Alan…and a very timely reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have noticed on a few occasions out shopping, that there are people who try to make eye contact. It is as if they feel lost in this world of masks and are trying to reach out. Sadly, the look in their eyes is exactly that…they seem kind of lost. I have always felt a smile meant so much…When you smile at people, you actually feel better yourself. (It is contagious.) I miss that connection with people so very much. Presently, all we can do is reach out to others in as many ways as we can…hopefully, the smiles will return in time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahh I laughed right here: ‘To be frank, (and Alan, too) …’
    But yes you’re so right we risk not being drawn to people the longer we cover up our faces/smiles..makes it easy to avoid conversation, sadly.
    This is something I want to be more conscientious of because I too have shyed away from smiles and even eye contact as well when I’m out and about. …God’s strength!!!🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha Frank!!!! Cracks me up❤️

        Nebraska is apparently fixing to lift ALL covid bands on Monday..should be interesting…we’ll probably end up with soaring numbers of covid next week, hopefully not though! I’m over the mask and all BUT I feel like responsibility and patience is key in getting back to “normal” …a gradual slide back into precovid times seems more logical than BAM everything lifted…

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s