Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Conversation with God

This still shot of me was taken during filming of the 2010 season promo for Bone Collector on the Outdoor Channel. In the promo, I played a homeless man who is taught to fend for himself with a bow and arrow. During a lull in the filming, however--in a few moments that seemed surreally suspended in time--I had an encounter with an actual homeless person that is indelibly etched in my memory.

The director and crew were across the street, discussing the next scene with the three principals of Bone Collector who were in a large, black truck with tinted windows. They were obscured by the truck and, because we were mostly using natural light, there wasn't a lot of production equipment in view.

From where I was sitting by myself on an overturned milk crate, next to my stereotypical shopping cart prop, waiting for the shooting to resume, I watched the old, bedraggled man come around the corner and make his way along the sidewalk toward me, pushing a two-wheeled cart loaded with all his belongings. I confess my discomfort that he would ask me for money or engage me in conversation. Instead, he walked past me without speaking.

Then, as he was crossing the street, he turned back and asked, "Are you hungry? I have some food that you can have." I told him that I was fine, but he persisted, "It's okay. If you're hungry, I'll feed you." Again, I told him that I would be okay. He reluctantly said, "Well, if you're sure," and started to walk away. Then, turning back again, he called out, "You need to get out of this town. They don't give a damn about homeless people here." With that said, he turned away, walked off down the street and disappeared around a corner. A moment later, the director emerged from behind the truck, the crew reappeared and shooting resumed as if nothing had happened.

What does that say? Here was the outcast, untouchable, unseen man possessing almost none of the things with which our society measures itself, yet he was prepared to share his modest food supply with me while unknowingly admonishing me for my own lack of mindfulness.

It was a conversation with God that I will never forget. It altered my perceptions and my life’s path.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
                                                                              ~ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

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