At my women’s circle – my last day of being with these dear hearts in this particular way – we made masks. We paired up, taking it in turns to carefully layer plaster bandages over each other’s face. It was a process of descent, and of birthing ourselves anew.
Placing the bandages on my friend’s face, I was conscious of the intimacy in this act, to be stroking her face like a lover, poring over her features. She felt beloved, even more than she already is, because of these intimate ministrations. A lesson in how actions create feelings.
And it was a privilege to witness her removing her finished mask. I became conscious of what a process it was, a midwifing of herself, birthing this mask, this experience. I witnessed that it took time, and sometimes it looked like nothing was happening.
When it was my turn, I felt full of emotion, teary from the richness of the whole weekend and holding myself in this ending of my time at circle. I asked another friend to lie beside me and hold my hand while I had the plaster put on my face.
Before we started, lying on the floor, I opened my eyes and saw/felt my friend holding my hand, our hearts close, and my other friend sitting with me, ready to minister to me with the plaster, and Kai, facilitator of the circle and long-time counsellor of mine, gently touching my feet, and then my head, as in our bodywork sessions of long ago, and another friend holding space for the friend who was holding my hand.
And I cried and cried, letting my wail empty into the room. Cried to feel so surrounded, in every way, by love. Cried to feel myself so deeply held in this life. Cried at the literal rewiring that was occurring within me in that moment, rewriting the script by which I live and act.
I am not alone. I do not lack. I have enough. And so, so much more than enough.
I am swimming in a sea of grace which knows no edges and has no shores. I am swimming in love. I am so deeply held. I am connected.
There is a waterfall of love in my heart. Love is a torrent all around me. I do not need to worry about anything.
Such potent themes, all of which I have been engaging with over the last few years, or more, but they coalesced in this moment, in a physical experience which even now fills my heart and eyes with tears.
As my friend laid the plaster strips on my face, I felt the warmth, and wet, and then cold, but very quickly, as the plastered hardened and I could no longer feel my skin, my world felt increasingly muffled. I felt as though I were descending, or dying, being buried far underground. My emotion drained away, and I sank deeper.
And rose again.
Taking my mask off was an effort in self-control and trust, as it clung to my face. My skin stretched and shifted, feeling raw and new. And then I could take in this creation.
Because I had been crying, I couldn’t breathe through my nose, and needed to keep my mouth open while the plaster was going on. With its open mouth, my mask looks like someone in extremity, the last gasp, blindly reaching, life and death together.
I journalled afterwards, and this is what I saw:
the last breath
for the light
singing the way
feeling my way
Such powerful words for me to arrive at: feeling my way. It’s how I do life. It’s the pathway that works best for me. I can trust that as I feel my way, I am led towards goodness and joy.
I am feeling my way.
What’s powerful about the mask is having a physical reminder of the emotional extremity I was in, in that moment – the joy and pain running so strongly together that my heart was washed wide, wide open. I look at my mask and can see/feel myself in that moment, and remember the rewriting, this new script I have created for myself, thanks to the loving support of many, and the undeniable presence of Spirit, holding me in every moment.
I am so grateful.