In this unprecedented season that has fallen over our city, our nation and our world, we are all meditating on the changes in every area of our lives. Yet, regardless of the changes, one thing should not change — our love for the Lord and our witness to Him. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
This brings me to such a fundamental thread in our faith. How we present ourselves to the world. How we present our authentic selves to the world: If we choose transparency and authenticity or if we indeed hide behind not physical masks of the pandemic but masks that hide our spiritual identity. There are over 800 verses on falsehood and hundreds of verses addressing the idea of being spiritually masked. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (Luke 12:2)
There have been a few times when I have recognized friends of mine shopping behind the mask. This mostly happens at the supermarket and we share our thoughts on these unusual times. I have also made the mistake of thinking that I know someone, saying hello, only to be mistaken.
Perhaps due to these changes, I am having vivid and memorable dreams. Just last night I had yet another dream about wearing a mask, not having my mask and then looking for my mask. I have even dreamed of social distancing.
Many years ago, I had another dream. Interesting how the Lord uses dreams to reveal truth to us. He is always speaking to us, in our waking and sleeping hours. There was a woman in my life who would spend hours, as we say, “putting on her face” in the morning. This isn’t a criticism against cosmetics, but in her case, it was more than cosmetics. It was an attempt to present perfection to the world, a beauty that was on the surface hiding a deep and wounded brokenness within. In the dream I had mercy for her. I touched her face and said: “You don’t have to wear the mask anymore.” And the mask fell away and beneath a troubled and tortured soul was revealed.
I think of the fairytale Pinocchio. The innocent boy who wanted to be an actor and the fox who pretended to the be one who would open the door to his dreams. Scripture is replete with imagery and warning against those who appear disguised but are truly harmful and deceitful. Many times, this manifests as the charming suitor who weaves a web of lies and deceit which are believed until it is too late to extricate oneself from being mistreated, or worse, being abused or assaulted by those we may know or strangers. Again and again, we are warned about falsehood in scripture. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8) “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
This brings me back to the mask. The mask that we are now all wearing to protect ourselves. Yet also the false mask that many wore before the pandemic. The mask that many will don even after the pandemic.
We are here not only to follow the Lord, praise the Lord, worship the Lord, but to be good stewards and guardians of each other. Let’s boldly and with faith stand strong against the sin of being masked to harm others and also against the masks we might also wear that do not serve the Lord’s purpose. Not masked physically for our protection during a global pandemic, but those who deceivingly don a mask to cover their true spiritual identity. In doing so, let us bear witness to how the Lord will put His hand upon us to heal the brokenness that causes us to assume identities that are not in alignment with His word.
We are in an unusual and uncomfortable season — a season with many changes. Yet, this is also a season of opportunity. A time to dive deep. A time to go within. A time to take a good and hard look at who we are in the silence of this storm. And an opportunity to emerge renewed, refreshed and healed. “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Jackie Morfesis has a BFA in fine arts, MA in liberal studies and teacher certification from Rutgers University. She held a Rotary Scholarship to Greece in the arts and humanities. An artist, poet and educator, she is a Greek Orthodox Christian and involved with prison ministry in the Charleston area.