Un-Masked: When Our Eyes Do the Talking

A trip to England, a writing workshop in Alaska, visits with my kids in Nashville and Chicago, a friend’s wedding …

The list of things I’ve missed during this pandemic is lengthy and counting the losses can be discouraging, even painful. I’m sure it’s the same for you. Some freedoms — such as dining in restaurants, going to movies and concerts, enjoying fairs and festivals — are purely entertainment and those opportunities will come around again. But the greatest losses involve people. Time with family and friends is something we will never again take for granted.

Last week, I took a day-trip to my childhood home town to meet up with one of my best friends. Our friendship spans over 30 years so the ties are deep. We haven’t seen one another since Covid-19 altered our lives and we had much to talk about as we sat down for breakfast (in a local restaurant) and took a long walk around town. I appreciate that my friend loves our home community as much as I do and I count on her to “hold place” for me between my visits.

Full disclosure: my friend and I did not wear masks during our time together. We distanced ourselves and both of us are habitual “clean freaks” but masks did not occur to us. We opted for full-face conversation. Even then, the words spoken by my friend did not impact me as much as sentiments expressed in her eyes.

William Shakespeare said it:

“The eyes are the window to your soul.”

Often during the years we’ve walked together, both of us have said words that were contradicted or at least explained by the language of our eyes. This is true not just of a deep friendship, but of a marriage partner, a child, a co-worker, an elderly relative. What we say with our mouth often doesn’t convey the climate of our soul.

It’s struck me that the need to wear a mask while in public and even when among acquaintances has created a barrier to clear communication. I can’t tell sometimes if the grocery clerk is smiling her usual friendly greeting until I look at her eyes. The truth behind a friend’s casual response “Yeah, I’m okay” is missed unless I take a deep look into her eyes. The tone of a person’s voice may provide a clue, but the crinkle at the corner of their eyes or a downcast glance often says more than words can convey.

We may be masked for protection against the spread of a deadly virus, but we can’t protect ourselves from those who take time to look deep through the window to our souls.

May there be people in your life who, masked or unmasked, allow you to peer into their souls, and who are sensitive enough to see what your eyes are telling them about the condition of yours.

Photo above: Unsplash



Reflecting on friendships that endure, I was reminded of the qualities that enrich and sustain such relationships. In our chats On the Front Porch, my friend Brenda Yoder and I talk about what we look for in a friend, and what we’ve seen in women who have come alongside each of us in the past as mentors. This week, we each share our “Three Bettys” — three women who have invested in us (named for my first mentor, Betty). Pull up a chair and join us On the Front Porch for some heartfelt conversation.




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