The following is a meditation written by Leigh Anne Armstrong (see bio below), written after the Mardis Gras season. You can enjoy all of her writings on her blog: Stumbling Toward Light.
Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Lord, Your summons echoes true when You but call my name.
Let me turn and follow You and never be the same.
In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in You and You in me.
--John L Bell and Graham A. Maule, 1987
Mardi Gras is several weeks in our rear view mirrors, but I still come across strings of purple beads tucked between the cushions in my sofa, or under the seat of my Honda. I know for a fact I’m still working the Fat Tuesday pancakes off my hips (Shakira preached truth when she said “hips don’t lie”). And if you follow the Mardi Gras pageantry in New Orleans (or in Mobile, where Mardi Gras is even older), or even the Krewe de Tigris fun of a small-town Auburn Mardi Gras, you know that masks are a vital part of the revelry.
Masks allow us to pretend, to be someone or something other than who we are for a bit. The timid can be brave, in lion masks. The plain can put on feathers and flambouyance. The wise can be foolish. And the foolish…well…you know… Masks are all pretense, misdirection, fantasy. Masks are fun or spooky, glamorous or mysterious.
But friends. When masks become our daily uniform, when we hide the reality of our lives, our truest joys and our deepest anguishes, from the world--when we hide us from ourselves--then our masks will be our undoing. Jesus calls us, by name, to repudiate fear’s power over us, the power that keeps us tied to the sameness of those masks. Jesus calls us, by name, to step out from behind the masks that are smothering us, to step into the uncovered truth of God’s love.
Out in the open, unmasked, there is moving, and living, and growing, in the company of Christ.
Leigh Anne Armstrong has spent most of her life in Auburn AL, where she was fortunate to grow up as part of a vibrant university community, and even more fortunate to be nurtured and supported by a progressive Baptist church. In that church, at various times, she has served as deacon, interim minister, children’s and handbell choirs director, Bible study leader, English language teacher, and VBS leader. She has been active in leadership of AL Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and has been a writer for the Smyth & Helwys Reflections devotional series.