Even without clucking like a hen
Everyone gets noticed, now and then
Unless, of course, that personage should be
Invisible, inconsequential me!
Cellophane, Mister Cellophane
Shoulda been my name, Mister Cellophane
‘Cause you can look right through me, walk right by me
And never know I’m there
What a pitiable character actor John C. Reilly plays in the movie/musical “Chicago”!* You can watch him sing and dance as “Mr. Cellophane” on YouTube. After he’s done with his sad solo, he says apologetically, “I hope I didn’t take up too much of your time.”
If you’re honest, you’ll admit that you know the feeling. All of us have our cellophane moments, when we feel transparent, “invisible, inconsequential.” But for some of you, this may seem like an apt description of your whole life, 24/7. You just don’t appear to matter to anyone.
In the movie, Reilly’s character is a nice guy that everybody seems to take advantage of, especially his wife Roxy, a ruthlessly ambitious singer/dancer who is determined to be a star. She cheats on him and steals him blind. This makes him feel worthless, kind of like the psalmist, who wrote
I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people. (Psalm 22:6)
In this Old Testament psalm, the author expresses the feeling of someone who is emotionally isolated. He reaches out to those around him and is verbally abused and ridiculed:
All who see me mock at me; they make faces at me, they shake their heads. (verse 7)
He looks to God and finds only silence and a cold shoulder:
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. (verse 2)
The cellophane psalmist begins to break out of his mood of self-pity with this prayerful thought:
Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help. (verses 9-11)
The Heavenly Father who shaped him as a tiny baby through the miracle of physical birth has, since then, continually nurtured and cared for him. In spite of his feeling in this moment that God doesn’t care about him, reflection on his lifetime of experiences reassures him that he will still be there for him.
Jesus had this encouraging word for his cellophane disciples:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So, do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows!” (Matthew 10:29-31)
The next time you have that cellophane feeling — “You can look right through me, walk right by me and never know I’m there” –, reread these words of Jesus. Then find a sparrow, look him in the eye and begin counting the hairs on your head.
— Pastor George Van Alstine
*1975 original Broadway play; 2002 movie.