By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, October 27, 2016

Leaves are falling and the temperature is finally dropping, at least to "tolerable." In this season for carnivals, costumes, and Casper, there are serious decisions to be made: what costume will I wear? Some of the most popular choices for this year will be Rey and BB8, Pokémon, or political figures. Maybe you will see someone dressed as a Snapchat filter or a Ghostbuster. All of these are in the top ten costumes this year.

I hope, for the sake of my preschool aged trick-or-treater, we don't see too many scary Halloween masks. I am prepared, however, for some zombie sightings around the neighborhood. Deep down, I think we know that the things that are really scary aren’t the fake mean-spirited masks that people wear over their smiling faces for just one night, but the false, smiling faces they wear over their persona on a regular day.

Perhaps this season gives us pause to consider the masks that we wear. We can be honest about what is going on beneath the surface of our own lives. Thomas Merton once wrote about the power of revealing the truth beneath the masks that we wear: “Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other."

What would we see, if we looked carefully and saw the core of someone's reality? What would happen if we saw each person the way they are seen in the eyes of Jesus? On Sunday evening, many of us will gather at Barefoot Tavern with friends from the community for "Tavernsong." One song we will sing is "Just As I Am." I can only imagine that there will be folks there who, like me, need the reminder that God loves them just exactly as they are.

My prayer is that we would be drawn together, knowing we are each beloved. My prayer is that we would worship the Creator who made each of us and is making of us a beautiful masterpiece. Let's look beneath the masks and beneath the labels we place on one another. Let's make room for people to show up and know they are loved just as they are.