Saturday, November 24, 2012

Masks & Rings & Evil Things

There once was a man named Grotowski and he had much to say about masks. In brief summary and simplified paraphrase, he held the idea that we put on masks that represent our roles in society, culture, and our lives.

 Grotowski's statement of principles govern how one takes on roles in the theatre. And through the taking on of characters in a play, one is free to throw off those assumed masks, "emerge from oneself," and become the "living organism who strives for higher motives" through performance; interaction with an audience; a mirroring of humanity.

As an artist, this approach has merit. Once onstage, you stop being yourself and become the character with whom the audience "interacts." This may sound strange. In our culture, we go to a dark place and watch recorded stories, projected in light up on a screen. This approach, while highly entertaining, is a flat, 2-dimensional representation. There is no "interaction" with the audience. The actor doesn't change his approach or level of action and reaction based on the rise and fall of audience response. It is a performance that is, in a way, static. But real, live theatre beats with a breathing soul. Performances are closer, more life and less story. It is peaking in on others' experiences and finding our own in theirs.

But reliance on performance to bring totality and authenticity, misses the mark for those of us who long to follow hard after God, that totality and authenticity are found in Christ alone. This requires something from me. It requires a transparency; admission that I am NOT whole or genuine without Christ as my center. It requires surrender of my other "selves"--masks, if you will--so that He can re-form me as a minister of the Gospel...the core of my identity.

The older I become, the more I long for authenticity; a desire to be real about the ugly of me. In this kind of transparency, it becomes necessary to see what is unsightly and take it, reveal it, broken and mutilated, before the grace and mercy of my Father because it is only in Him that I can be transformed.

My own efforts to reshape myself drain my spirit, leave me raw and disillusioned in the wake of what I am powerless to change.  Or I find myself sweeping with long strokes to hide the muck under the thickest of rugs, pretending, ever pretending, that I have ridded myself of it.

Impatience, anger, pride, bitterness, rage...these are my foe and my bane. I've been watching Lord of the Rings. I always look for metaphor in these great tales. Tolkien being my Brother in Christ, a fellow sojourner on this narrow path, doesn't disappoint in weaving them into the tales.

There is the One Ring, sought by so many, betrayer of each one who claims it as his own. Each would-be ring-bearer believes that the Ring can be wielded, bent to the wearer's power for the sake of good. Each who takes the Ring as his own, becomes saturated with evil, seeing only his own broken desire.

I put on my own Ring, my sackful of awfulness, claiming its power for myself, intent on doing "good" but instead, wielding my weapons, harming, destroying, bringing strife and discord. And in this way, I function in defiance of the Gospel; in rebellion to the Word:

"Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace."

When was the last time I sought to bind myself to others in peace?

When was the last time, I relinquished my hold on my rights, in order sow peace for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of someone else--even my own family?

Do I stand with Christ in His message of sacrificial love or do I stand for myself, only, wrapped in filth and selfish concern?

What about you, Christ-follower?

 It is cruel irony that this season is celebrated and touted by many as one of peace. "Keep Christ in Christmas!" we clamor. And then, when the lines are long and the prices are low and the parking spaces are all filled, we shout different. We push, complain, show no mercy, disregard the very Person whose birth we claim to herald.

When we refuse to bind in peace, we will, in every certainty, scatter and separate.  And then the peace of God in our hearts is smothered and the message of God to a lost and dying world is neglected.

My identity as a Minister of Christ--mine and yours--must become central. It must win out no matter what is said or done to me. It must win out no matter who cuts me off or cuts in line or speaks disrespectfully or pushes me aside. I am not called to correct others' mistakes or dole out my own brand of justice. I am called to love--simply and without prejudice.

Our masks--mother, father, brother, sister, wife, husband, manager, employee, customer, business owner, driver, traveler--these are not truly who we are. When we throw them off in lieu for our true selves--Ministers, Ambassadors of Christ--we become who we were created to be.

We become better mothers and fathers and husbands and wives and all the rest because we don't have to wear the masks. We become, as Grotowski said, "living organisms who strive for higher motives." We become children of God and our strivings to share this with others become pure and selfless and holy.

Today, I aim to take off my masks; to take off my Ring. This season calls for it. My life calls for it. A Holy, Just and Loving Father calls for it. Who, with me, will answer the call?

No comments:

Post a Comment