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Trick or treaters, masked as princesses, pirates, ghouls, inflated by assumed identities, may again canvas our neighborhoods this Halloween, their parents watching from the sidewalks. Winds will nip ankles, flit crisped leaves across lawns beneath a waning moon. The drama, the hilarity will deepen.

Perhaps you have also donned a mask for such haunts when a kid or for Mardi Gras carnivals? Perhaps experienced masked performers in a play or ritual performances of native peoples? Or worn masks for Covid protection? Or still do?

You are not alone. Peoples from cultures all over the world have donned masks for such purposes. The oldest one, made of stone, dates back to 7000 B.C., the pre-ceramic Neolithic period; it is kept in the Bible and Holy Land Museum in Paris, France.

But there is another way of considering masks.

As children growing up in troubled families, we can develop masks or defense mechanisms that later thwart significant relationships in family and at work. A gnawing emptiness results. Nothing is significant. Addictive behaviors soon follow. Some visit the consulting rooms of psychologists or other helpers and begin the painful process of owning their self-constructed masks and learning to discard them.  Perhaps for the first time in their lives, they experience their spiritual center and live from this Source. They thrive, at whatever age.

I know. I’ve been through this process. And here is the result – I keep it in my study!

Around midnight, I awoke with this dream:

I’m surprised. Someone has given me a new dress: black, woven wool, two-piece. I slip the skirt over my head; its hem gently flares around my mid-calf. Embroidered flowers—reds, oranges, yellows, and whites entwined by green leaves—band the circle neckline and the cuffs of the long sleeves. I pull on the form-fitting top, then stand before a full-length mirror. I’m pleased, despite not having an occasion to wear it.

Someone suggests a friend who knows me very well, even to the correct dress size that I used to wear, when younger. What’s curious, however, is its color, black. Having worn the long black habit of a nun for ten years, I promised never to wear that color once I left the convent; in my perception, black symbolized renunciation, disintegration, and death. As a single woman, I wanted desperately to live and shopped at Lily Pulitzer’s whenever I could—the more color, the better, to enhance my toned body.

On a deeper level, however, the new dress suggests the lovely persona that I will reveal to those around me for that special occasion, whenever it occurs.

Perhaps I’ll wear the new dress for my home-going?

 

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