I came across an article in National Geographic titled, “How Art Heals the Wounds of War” which explains how soldiers create meaningful masks in an art therapy program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. The masks are powerful and I invite you to check them out:
This story represents one amazing example of how art opens us up to being and allowing ourselves to come through as imperfect, as vulnerable, as courageous. It’s about how art creates change, allowing us to heal as humans, to express that which is caught inside us. It may even open our voices!
As I read the article I was reminded of being abroad as a student and learning what it feels like to live within a culture that speaks a foreign tongue, has its own gestures, mannerisms, and emotes freely. Another time, as I stood next to a soldier friend on July 4th in America I saw the inner turmoil of his past sneak onto his face as fireworks lit up the nearby sky. I felt bombarded by the multitude of situations that ask me and you to put (as Glennon Doyle Melton would say) our ‘representative’ forward instead of our authentic selves.
This idea of the mask, that has existed in so many cultures throughout history, serves as an acknowledgement to the complexities in what it means to be human and to be ourselves. Create your own mask today (by cutting out cardboard from your recycling bucket, drawing it out, or getting creative however you choose) OR imagine making a mask of yourself today, what would it look like? What does it represent? What does it mean for you? Tell someone about your mask.