This blog article is not about the pros and cons of mask-wearing. Instead, I’d like to suggest a possible deeper meaning for this whole phenomenon. All around the world, people are wearing masks, for mutual protection and individual/collective health. When I pass someone on the street here in Massachusetts in winter, I see eyes and a mask—and lots of clothing. COVID has made us almost unrecognizable, one from the other. Sometimes it seems eerie or surreal—a science fiction scenario. Yet people often wave or gesture in a friendly way as they go by, bridging the social distance between us. In our anonymity, we are still human. And maybe, ultimately, that may be the gift of COVID: to show us in an unforgettable ongoing visual that we are really all the same. The masks hide our differences, and our common humanity is clearly visible in our eyes.
Over the past year, I have had vast stretches of time to ponder the greater significance of this pandemic in our lives. From the beginning, it seemed clear that there was a multi-faceted divine understory to what felt so overwhelmingly catastrophic and tragic. God had given us a timeout, a reset. Yes, we faced severe illness, suffering, and death on a global scale. Still, as the world shut down, and we sheltered in place, distanced from one another physically, the human spirit somehow found ways to reach into the emptiness with hope. People sang from their balconies and windows. They flooded the Internet with photographs of clear unpolluted skies, newly visible mountains, and wildlife returning. In looking into the distance and listening into the stillness, we realized how much we had been missing in our busy, noisy lives. Awareness arose in individual after individual. We could perceive the world and each other with greater clarity.
Simultaneously, the more clearly we saw, the more political conflict arose. People voiced their outrage at years of racist violence and oppression. Many listened while others refused to hear. Versions of opposing “truths” played out everywhere. Some viewed this ongoing turmoil as apocalyptic. To me, it was birth pains, the emergence of new possibilities as the destructive and unworkable fell away. My entire lifetime has pointed me in that direction. Countless prophecies of indigenous peoples and spiritual masters have envisioned this time. We are not destroying the Earth and humanity; we are being offered the gift of awakening, revitalization. What has been called the New Earth is now emerging.
On the New Earth, we embrace difference as part of Oneness, diversity as divine. In each other’s eyes, we see commonality and love, not opposition and hatred. We work together to create communities that circle the globe in peace and sister/brotherhood. No one ahead or above, all moving together as equals with unique gifts to share. This is the vision, and it is beginning to come into being now. So, perhaps those sometimes cumbersome and inconvenient masks are actually a blessing. In a world of multicolored masks, who is the enemy? Masks direct us to the eyes, which are the windows to the soul. And that’s who we are ultimately: souls on a fantastic journey on a wondrous blue planet, here to expand and evolve. When we look into one another’s eyes, we see the Soul, unified and infinite. That’s who we are, with or without masks.