Today’s guest post comes from Melanie Clark Pullen. Melanie lives in Ireland with her husband and two children. She has worked as an actor for over ten years in television and theatre in the UK and Ireland. She also wrote and directed the award winning Irish language short film Marion agus an Banphrionsa (Marion and the Princess). She is part of the online arts/faith/culture community Dreamers of the Day (www.dreamtoday.org) and is also in training to be a local preacher in the Methodist Church. She contributes to The Master’s Artist, featuring writers from many different Christian traditions musing on writing and faith, every other Friday.
Rest for the soul.
I’m working on a short film this week and I love getting to be with other actors and spend time on a film set. You could say I was as happy as a kid in muck.
Inevitably, when actors get together we end up talking about work we have done, experiences we’ve had with other directors. It struck me this time round that both myself and the other actor on the shoot were carefully creating a narrative of our creative lives in an effort to present ourselves in the best possible light. It’s important to get the mix right. Too much emphasis on the highlights and you give the impression that you’re proud and full of yourself. On the other hand, if you only complain about the disappointments, you may make the other person question the validity of calling yourself an actor in the first place.
I am so very tired of fashioning a positive spin out of my years as an actor and writer. We spend so much energy building identities for ourselves. It’s something to cling to when we meet other people. It’s almost like acting in real life, building a persona to hide behind, secreting our true selves away to some darkened corner of our psyche.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is recorded as saying “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
If we are burdened by the constant pressure to maintain a persona that is pleasing to the world, following Jesus means emptying ourselves so that he can fill us with the abundance of himself. When we are full of God, what else can we be but a blessing to those around us? When we are ignited by the Spirit, released to be who God created us to be then we are freed from the oppressive tyranny of Other People’s Opinions.
Then our work, be it writing, painting, acting or music comes from a place of peace, a place of service, a place of worship. Following Jesus transforms us not into vacant clones with plastic smiles with all the right boxes ticked but beautiful, unique and free spirits whose art is a blessing to the world.