Head hanging, smoking a cigarette, walking with slumped shoulders—in comparison to the bright shiny morning, the young man’s countenance was rather dreary.
I was refilling my bird feeder when he passed by on the opposite side of the road. I sang out a cheery, “Good Morning.” He looked up grinning from ear to ear and replied in kind. What really caught my attention was the light in his eyes as we briefly connected before the moment passed and he journeyed on down the road. Hopefully his heart felt lighter, I know mine did.
Then there was this …
“I’m pretty sure you were my sixth grade Science teacher.”
I was in the check-out line at the grocery story, wearing my mask. The young woman bagging my items was wearing a mask too and yet, with so little of her face showing, her eyes looked familiar.
“Mrs. Spurlock,” I said with my hand on my chest in reference to myself.
My instincts were confirmed when she briefly removed her mask so I could see her whole face. We both marveled at how we recognized one another under these challenging and interesting circumstances.
Shakespeare and Milton are among those given credit for the English and Traditional proverb, “The eyes are the window of the soul.”
Cicero said, “The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter.”
Maybe this is the real reason so many people refuse to don a face-mask? Not wearing a face mask may have less to do with first amendment rights and/or the “virus is a hoax” and more to do with the desire to hide the content of their heart and soul. Such folks falsely believe they can remain hidden by staying in plain sight.
Face mask or no face mask, this is just not possible!
Jesus had a few things to say about eyes as well, like this from Matthew 7:1-5.
Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For the way you judge others is how you will be judged — the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!
Through the use of this parable, Jesus seems to be asking us to examine our motives, our beliefs, our illusions—all things we envision as separate from Him.
What is looking out through our eyes? What is being perceived, apprehended, seen? What is it that is seeing through the eyes? Is seeing about projections, all those shadows of our own conditioned beliefs, or is seeing something else?
The Sermon on the Mount, from which the above quote is taken, acts as a decipher for the Torah, God’s Judaic laws found in the first five books of the Old Testament of the Bible. If, as Jesus says, the greatest commandments are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind (Deuteronomy) and … love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus),” then the Sermon on the Mount describes how to do just that, simply by unmasking ourselves.
The ‘logs’ and ‘splinters’ —our illusions of separation—blind us. If we really took a hard look at our answers to the above questions and let Jesus’s words resonate deeply within our souls, would all the labels and ideologies with which we appear to so defiantly and concretely identify ourselves and others, have any meaning whatsoever?
No, of course not! We would be unmasked; free from separation, aware of the Wholeness of our Being!
In our lostness, we throw labels around using them as judgements and accusations, deeming others less worthy of love and grace than ourselves. “Take the log out of your own eye before you take the imaginary splinter out of someone else’s eyes.”
Political ‘logs’ is one such marker. I am tired of being tagged as a “Democrat” because for some people, registered as Republicans, that seems to be their politically correct dirty word. Do phrases like “a good Democrat is a dead Democrat” or “Radical Left Do Nothing Democrat” or “she’s a Democrat, you know” (spoken in hushed tones) sound familiar?
If that terminology is part of your vocabulary, did you notice I afforded you the grace to say “registered as a Republican?” I am simply registered as a Democrat. If anyone would like to know why I made this deeply considered choice, I would be happy to sit down and share with you within the framework of a caring and compassionate conversation.
Another ‘log’ I am tired of is ‘Christian.’ Again, I am simply a follower of Christ.
The word ‘Christian’ first appears in the book of Acts in the New Testament of the Bible. In the Greek translation of chapter 11 verses 25 and 26 ‘Messiah’ is translated as khristos, and consequently anglicized as Christ, from which the term Christian is derived.
In the Complete Jewish Study Bible the verses read as follows:
Then Bar-Nabba (Barnabas) went off to Tarsus to look for Sha’ul (Saul); and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They met with the congregation there for a whole year and taught a sizeable crowd. Also, it was in Antioch that the talmidim (disciples) for the first time were called “Messianic.”
‘Messianic’ meaning a follower of the Messiah. Other Biblical translations use the phrase ‘the Way’ as in “they were followers of the Way.” Notice that the ‘t’ in ‘the Way’ is NOT capitalized! Could that be because ‘Way’ refers to the person of Jesus—his life as a passage–and not to a set of do’s and don’ts designed to conflate hierarchy and patriarchy, and therefore arrest loving relationships?
One way or another, mask or no mask, there is no hiding.
As the saying goes, “You can run, but you can’t hide” because …
You yourselves are your letter, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3
The time is now to see the Way as open … open to truthful and tender transformation.
“Caring for those around us isn’t merely a nice habit to cultivate; Jesus says that is central to our character as a whole.” Lois Tverbert
Imagine the kind of true awakening and awareness that would take place worldwide, and the resulting healthful global benefits if we all realized Whose we are, and to Whom we belong.