Our Mask and Shield

My wife and I spent last evening with friends at a concert by Canadian musician Steve Bell.  It was an opportunity to just take in such incredible talent in a comfortable atmosphere.  What struck me though, was the grace by which Steve played.  He has such talent that it would be plausible for him to be arrogant about his abilities.  Quite contrary in fact.
This man presented as humble and sincere in his work.  There was a connection that he made with people that it was evident he enjoyed his work, his art.
Steve is more than a musician though.  He has a unique take on people.  Steve explained that his father was a Chaplain at a jail in Drumheller, Alberta and that as a child, Steve’s father would bring him into chapel on Sundays, where most of his exposure to church took place.  Today that would be simply unacceptable and most likely not even considered.
But Steve embraced the experience.  As he shares stories from his own experiences, there isn’t a shred of indignation.  He exudes a genuine care and compassion for people.  It’s a simple and honest emotion, but open for judgement by those who fail to understand the basic human needs that each of us have.
It got me to thinking.  Maybe the people with the least to lose are the most likely to be transparent.  Maybe people who present with such a facade may actually be some of the most vulnerable of our society.  The mask becomes their shield, their protection.
Once in jail, there really isn’t much point to lying or trying to convince people that you are a saint.  Clearly, you aren’t.  Neither am I though.  Don’t misunderstand, the guys in jail did some awful things, but take it away and they are just people like you and I.  They may even have ended up in a better place amongst society’s elite, if someone had come along side them and showed grace at a critical time, rather than being critical when grace could have changed their world.  
Every man and women who finds themselves in jail has trail that lead them to the life they chose.  If you ever have the chance, sit and listen to inmates when they talk.  They all have a story to tell about their journey and they mistakes.  Maybe you could be the one person that cares enough to stop and listen. 
Everyone has a story.


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