One of the make-up artists that I worked with on a film years ago and I are friends on Facebook; she’s always posting messages of positivity and light, which is one of the things I have always loved about her. Recently she posted a story that I just had to share with you, so I got her permission to do so.
Tara Starling used her make-up talents to help a bishop in a local church spread awareness of a message that I think is so important to remember, especially during the Holiday season. I’m pasting her story below along with the picture. Hopefully it will touch you in the same way it did me- by reminding us to not judge someone on their outward appearances, and to not take for granted the daily blessings in our lives, no matter how big or small. Thanks, Tara, for the inspiration!!
“Early this morning, before I came to set, I had a very special opportunity to use my makeup to share a life-altering, soul-shaking, world-changing message. A local bishop, who had deep concerns about his congregation’s lack of compassion and their tendency towards quick judgement, came to me asking if I could transform him into a homeless man, concealing his true identity from those he led in worship each Sunday. I told him I was happy to do it, but it would require him coming to my house quite early so that I could do his makeup and still get to set on time. “I’ll be there at 2am in the morning if I have to…” he replied, “…the people in my congregation need to internalize the importance of unconditional love in a way they will never forget.”
So at 6 am in the morning he showed up at my house, and for the next hour we altered his appearance with fake sideburns, a bruised and cut cheek, deeply scarred lip, contact lenses, a wig, tooth stain and lots of of “dirt.” I rushed off to go do makeup for my actors on set of the movie I am working on, and he went to teach his flock by giving them a real-life parable.
All morning I was on pins and needles, waiting anxiously to get his text reporting on how the experiment had gone and what effect it had on his parishioners. Finally at 10:58 am my phone screen lit up.
“Absolutely blew them away…Not a dry eye in the congregation… Lots of guilty guilty consciences afterwards.Had five different people kick me off the church property. We have a long way to go in this church…” And then he added, “But I was amazed at how many children came up and put change in the box.”
What is it that makes us forget in our adulthood what we so inherently know as children; that every soul has intrinsic value independent of circumstance or standing? When do we begin to believe that because someone has less they are worth less? At what point do we decide in our hearts that because someone has lost everything, they now merit only our disdain and scorn rather than our compassion and kindness?
Perhaps that is precisely the problem though…that we no longer choose to make a difference with our hearts because we are making all our decisions with our heads. The Master himself said “Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Can it be that simple to create the Kingdom of Heaven in our hearts and in our communities and in our world, and enter into it right here and right now?
God gives each of us such an abundance of blessings. More than we can even use ourselves most of the time. Can we take the “change,” the extra bits of His goodness and Grace that fill our hands and our homes and our hearts after our day-to-day transactions in the
marketplace of Life, and simply place it in the “box” of someone who is wounded and weary, dirty and dejected? Can we forget all the ridiculous false things we have learned in this world and remember the simple, shining truths we knew when we first came into it?
The last thing I gave the kind bishop—now looking quite different– before I left my house and headed to set was instructions on how to get cleaned up and returned back to his original self. His very first step was to take out the contacts so he could see clearly to do the rest. And perhaps therein lies our answer. Perhaps it really is as easy as removing from our eyes the scales of judgement and indifference so we can see once again with the pure and perfect vision of a child.
What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall in that chapel today, and see the reaction of the people in the pews as they suddenly realized that the downtrodden, destitute man they had hurriedly brushed past on the sidewalk was actually the father of their congregation. But sitting here on set I can feel tears in my own eyes as I wonder who has really been inside the lost and lonely souls that I have not taken time to actually see beneath their broken parts and battle scars. But I know that even if there was not a single heart turned in that church building today, the brave bishop still got his wish. My own heart turned. My own eyes are seeing in a new and wonderful way. And although in time I may not remember precisely what products I used to transform the bishop into a street bum, he has indelibly marked upon this makeup artist’s heart the importance of unconditional love in a way that I will will never, ever forget.” -Tara