Of all the Halloween events I’ve participated in, one stands out from the rest. I was supposed to walk the neighborhood with my family, but my appointments kept me late in Los Angeles. By the time I got home and caught up with my family, they were visiting their last house. I jumped in line still in my office attire, and the host standing at the door in full Halloween costume called to his wife, “Honey come and look – this must be a Republican!”
I wonder if the celebration of Halloween did not develop out of the mirroring of real life. We all wear masks every day – sometimes without even knowing it. These are masks that may hide or in some way disguise emotions and feelings like sadness, worry, and pain. Or just for a brief period of time you consciously represent yourself as someone you’ve always wanted to be. I have a son-in-law who uses this occasion to mask as a personality he finds interesting. And for a short period of time he seems to be that person.
But these masks, whether worn on Halloween or throughout the year, are just disguises, and without our consent they are unable to fasten themselves upon us. These masks have no ability to speak, act, influence, or affect the thinking of the one who recognizes the masks for what they are – a pretense. Yet could it be that the sadness, worry, pain, etc., are themselves false representations of who we actually are?
God, described in the Bible as all good, has created each of us in His likeness – the uniquely varied expression of good. The true identity of man as given by God is revealed once masks are removed. How do we go about removing these masks? I find that a deep, prayerful connection to God is the key. Mary Baker Eddy, biblical researcher, Christian healer, and writer about man’s true identity with God, wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “All reality is in God and His creation, harmonious and eternal. That which He creates is good, and He makes all that is made. Therefore the only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise.”
This is the way to deal with masks that has worked for me: seek to identify myself as an individual expression of God’s goodness, which strips away masks or false identities.
That is what I had to do when I was working to resolve a racial inequality problem in a southern school district program. I knew going into the job that many felt a resolution could not be found, and this problem was creating an increasingly toxic school and work environment. As I prayed to remove these seemingly unyielding masks of anger, intolerance, and inequality, I realized that I must meet with all concerned and see each person’s true, all-good identity. At that point I knew I would be able to find a solution.
After an orderly meeting covered by the local media, where all individuals were able to express their viewpoints, I gave my thoughts, rationale, and decision. The next day the morning newspaper carried this headline: “Ingwerson is a Healer.” Of course, I knew it was this view of man in God’s likeness that was the “Healer,” not me personally. Harmony was established as masks were removed.
What is even more important to me is that when masks worn by different people are removed and harmony is expressed, God’s true nature, which before was also disguised, is now revealed. Although God’s true nature can never truly be masked, people have the tendency to perceive masks that for a time seem to hide God’s goodness. When doubt and fear cloud my thinking, for example, I again hold to the idea that God is all good, all powerful, and all comforting. Just touching on this idea brings me closer to this boundless divine Love and I’m able to discern and dismiss these masks as a false representation of both God and man.
So this Halloween and throughout the year let’s maintain in our thinking those spiritual qualities described by Jesus when he said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” And explained by Eddy in Unity of Good, “The evil accompanying physical personality is illusive and mortal; but the good attendant upon spiritual individuality is immortal.” And when you are asked what you are going to be this Halloween, you will know that under that removable fun or scary mask, you are going as your true self.