Recently a friend returned from the Sudan after spending a year teaching there, she called me and asked if I could repair a mask she received from the parents of the children as a gift for her successful work with them.
The mask, unfortunately, had not made the trip from Africa in one piece and so of course I said YES.
What an opportunity and honor to perform such a healing experience I thought. Yes healing! The mask taught me many things as I prepared myself and carefully worked with it to restore the energies it represented for so many.
At first I was guided to sit with and hold the mask while I heard the story of how it came to be here in my care. It was much more than an object of art as I listened and heard of how the journey my friend undertook began. Some of the trials while being there as well as the growth of both herself and the children she was guided there to teach.
I also listened as the mask began to tell me of its meaning which I relayed to her as it came through. In the Crown of animals there was a piece that had not been saved and the space was to be left empty. Although one piece would always be missing it was perfectly fitting to remind us that there is always a missing piece in the fields of creation, but which is still part of the whole, although we may not see it. Representing those in our own lives as well who have been important to us yet are no longer here.
So, I welcomed the mask as a bridge of the ancestors of Africa and the Americas and let it sit with pictures of my own ancestors in honor of the human journey which has led to this moment. We often tend to only think of here and now and ourselves, yet here I was with the energies of all the ancestors of my lineage, those of my friend, those of the carver, and those of the children in Africa. A healing space was created to bring it all together in harmony, balance and Love.
When working with objects that are of spiritual nature it is important to not be in a hurry. Our human sense of time is not as important as the allowing of space between actions. So it was several days before I actually began the reconstruction.
The physical repairs were done very carefully by gluing small segments together in a number of gluings and allowing time for each to cure. Each time I felt guided and sure of my choices which flowed with ease and without any second guessing. Rather than worrying during the whole process about creating further damage I enjoyed the reconstruction process. It flowed with a peaceful understanding that each step was part of a pathway to wholeness. Both an ending and a beginning which the mask represented.
At the final filling in of cracks and polishing began, a sense of thankfulness and gratitude overcame me and I started to see a great likeness between the mask and myself. Hence the title “Repairing Your Mask”.
Each of us as humans wear a mask and sometimes quite a few, yet we don’t always know which ones have been damaged or are no longer needed. They are put on as small children perhaps at the age of those children in Africa when we begin to enter into the larger community of the world.
Each of us are now being called to look in the mirror and discern where the damages have occurred to our own mask and to repair it.
Each of us will have scars that will remain visible and some missing parts which cannot be replaced, for these are the natural wear and tear of what we call Life. It was not meant that we escape the challenges of life but to embrace them and learn that we are much more than these physical beings in a world of chaos and misunderstanding.
Yet each of us must at some point in the future remove the masks and be able to place them on the walls to remind us that they are no longer needed. To come to understand that we are strong enough to reveal who we truly are to the world around us. Having Gratitude to memorialize that we all have been part of an ancestry that reaches back to a time before masks. A time when we lived from our hearts without fear of each other, in communities where assisting each other to grow and learn was more important than what we obtained through bartering or overpowering each other.
We can then walk away with Love, giving it away in all that we do, to whomever we encounter without judgment and in Peace. Our Light no longer hidden behind the mask briefly shining through our eyes but now in full radiant glory.
So let us all begin to repair our own masks, paving the the way to see more, be more, and have more gratitude for ourselves and all of humanity. In this we can then look forward to a time when the masks we wear and have created will be the art objects given in token of appreciation for the compassion and kindness we bestow upon others.