So many masks we might be wearing.

with love we come to believe we are and have always been all we need to be.

What was the first mask you put on? We probably start masking up before we're even aware. The first time we’re hurt and are told to get up and brush it off, or picked up and coddled: mask; the first time we’re praised or embarrassed, our first kiss and our first heartbreak, our first victory and our first defeat: mask, mask, mask. So many masks we might be wearing.

Do these masks help us understand who we are? Or do they hide who we really are from ourselves?Llikely both. So how are we to know if a mask is good or bad? Necessary or flawed? First, I would argue that there is no such thing as a good or bad mask (as long as our general aim is to do no harm).

Masks are tools: we use them to get through life.

Instead of good or bad, maybe we should treat them as the tools they are and ask if a mask is still useful.

If the mask is no longer helpful, maybe it's time to take it off, set it aside, and try life without it. We may have a hard time letting go of a mask, we may not even recognize we are masked, or realize we have slipped a mask back on.

As Baldwin declares, love is the eternal unmasking force. To feel love is to feel whole. To feel love is to recognize we're even wearing a mask, and be able to ask ourselves if we like that mask. To feel love means we are able to negotiate the fit of that mask, and decide if it is useful, or if perhaps we’ve outgrown it. With love, we can determine if a mask enhances who we are or is perhaps holding us back from who we might become.

When love becomes part of the equation, when we feel alive and accept love, and we’re able to express love, every mask we wear is called into question.

We find the courage to consider each mask, to take them off and really look at them, really consider who we are when we wear them. We are able to ask questions of the masks, and set them aside as we consider life without them.

But also, with love, we are encouraged to begin the search for our future. With love, we are granted the freedom to explore who we are and who we might become. With love, we are inspired to embrace new emotions, we are no longer afraid to open ourselves up, to gaze out into the world and dream. With love, we are allowed desires and needs, and we understand we are enough as we are.

With love, we come to believe we are, and have always been, all we need to be.