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Souls Unmasked

By Teresa Bruce

People are crying out here. And dying.

Every day, precious new souls strap on tiny, frail bodies and scream at the unfairness of everything different — bright light, cold air, hunger, thirst, mess, texture, noise, pain…

Meanwhile, every hour, other souls — too many just as young, some downright old, most in between — slip out of every-size bodies. Some sigh and some scream. A few silently sing.

“Ready or not, here I come,” cry the arriving and the departing.

Gold-toned full-face mask with decorative paint and empty eye holes on teal scarf by Teresa TL Bruce for Segullah post Souls UnmaskedEvery day, striving souls strap on masks of compassion or contention, kindness or criticism while facing the unfamiliar. We declaim and decry circumstances and institutions, attitudes and assumptions, indifference and injustice, fairness and freedom. We accommodate and ignore disabilities and responsibilities.

Meanwhile, every hour, our other souls — some just as sincere, some downright oppositional, some unconvinced — slip out of comfort zones. We wake to old sights brought to light and sounds of new voices and textures of cultures we did not see, hear, or feel until our eyes, ears, and hearts opened.

“…I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make a darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

On and on, coming and going souls pass one another on packed pathways.

Meanwhile, among the staying and striving rest of us — the masked and the unmasked, those of us entrenched in bedrock and those of us in uprooted displacement, the ones recharging and the ones charging forth — life goes on.

Except when it doesn’t. Metallic full-face mask with empty eye holes on teal scarf faces toward the viewer's left.

Life-changing situations — agonizing accidents, local monstrosities, regional disasters, national disgraces, global death tolls — cry out for large-scale awareness, personal consideration, absolute acknowledgment, attempted restoration, and even preventative legislation.

But the life-altering suffering, aching of one — our loved one, our friend, our self — funnels headlines into heartbreak, difficulty into despair. Sometimes, such heart-soul-groundbreaking adversity lays the cornerstone for a cause. A mission. A movement.

“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

“And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” (Luke 15:4-5)

And the death of one — our important one, our known one, our loved one — deflates the globe, erases the borders, removes the crowds. The death of our own one stops time and gravity and life as we knew it. Such loss can only be shared, not repaired.

“…as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

“Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God…” (Mosiah 18:8-9)

Our people (and our souls) are crying, even dying out there.

Will our everyday choices, our voices, our actions or inactions harm or heal?

“Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?” (Isaiah 42:23)

Blue surgical mask covers bottom half of gold-tone full-face mask with empty eye holes on silky black fabric background. Illustrates covering souls for post Unmasking Souls by Teresa TL Bruce for Segullah.

About Teresa Bruce

Teresa TL Bruce burrows into stories for work and fun. She’s published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids, Florida Writers Association Collections, Florida State Poets Association anthologies, Segullah's Seasons of Change, and Orlando's The Community Paper, and she was a finalist in NYC Midnight’s 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge. Teresa advises “What to Say When Someone Dies” on TealAshes.com. She’s proudest of her three dynamic daughters, super sons-in-law, adorable grandchildren, and spoiled rescue dog.

4 thoughts on “Souls Unmasked”

  1. Very perceptive. I can hardly read the news, my heart is breaking. "Will our everyday choices, our voices, our actions or inactions harm or heal?" I need to cut my news reading in half and double my devotional acts (if not quadruple). Thanks for creating a space for me to step outside the contention and ask the big, important questions. Hugs to you and yours. KDA

    Reply
  2. Thank you, Karen. I agree that the news, on almost every level, is difficult to allow into my senses, let alone process in my heart. So many souls (and bodies) are aching. It's easy (far too easy) to throw my hands in the air and see all the diversity of pains and problems as too big for me to be able to help in any meaningful way. The very least I can do is be sure my voice speaks on the side of loving my neighbors and fellow citizens of our shared globe even (and especially if) their voices differ from mine.

    Reply
  3. This is whole thing is beautiful poetry seamlessly woven with intricate meaning and depth. Interwoven with scripture.
    I resonate especially with the language and feeling of this part:
    "And the death of one — our important one, our known one, our loved one — deflates the globe, erases the borders, removes the crowds." ?

    Reply
  4. This is whole thing is beautiful poetry seamlessly woven with intricate meaning and depth. Interwoven with scripture.
    I resonate especially with the language and feeling of this part:
    "And the death of one — our important one, our known one, our loved one — deflates the globe, erases the borders, removes the crowds." ?

    Reply

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