What is this feeling?
An exhausted exhilaration has settled within and around me today. I guess that’s the way to describe it. It feels like significance. As though something of consequence has happened (is happening?), and I was (am?) a part of it.
From Tuesday, April 5, 2011 until now has been one of the most hectic, amazing, frustrating, wonderful, tiring, energizing … the list could go on … periods of time in my life. I peg it to April 5 because that was when I got up on stage at the Lander’s Theatre and auditioned for “Children of Eden” with a song that nobody knew but me and probably wasn’t the best choice and left me feeling like I should have chosen a different one. But I got called back, then learned that I was cast as “Noah” in the show, and began rehearsing.
What was it about this particular show, this particular production of this particular show, that was so miraculous? Script, music, message, director’s vision, cast talent, amazing set, gorgeous costumes, brilliant lighting, spectacular projections … ? These things added together? Just the magic of theater?
Or was there something else happening?
It was something that the cast sensed early on, forming deep and intense connections among one-time strangers. It was something that the audience sensed every single show, many times standing and cheering even before the final blackout. It was something that “theater people” who had been a part of live theater for umpteen years even had trouble describing. When you hear a theater veteran say, "I've never been a part of anything like this," it points to something beyond the ordinary.
The show was religious. Whatever your faith, this show elicited reflection on God. That was true for the audiences as well as the crew and cast. And when you are with a show that compels theological reflection for three months, there’s a lot of opportunity for divine activity. It pulls out of you a response that for lack of a better word we call “emotional.” But this experience obviously affected more than just emotions.
When you are kneeling on stage among a phenomenal cast who have become dear friends, heads bowed during the final song, and you hear not just sniffs and sighs but actual sobs as we all weep together before joining together for one final refrain … “Children of Eden, seek for your garden, you and your children to come, someday to come home…”
Added into the mix for me personally were a whole slew of moments of significance: our kids finishing their school year, welcoming a newborn baby into our home for foster care, being elected a delegate to the United Methodist Jurisdictional Conference from Missouri, participating in this year’s amazing Vacation Bible School, helping two gifted young men begin their process toward ordination, plus the everyday significance of worship, pastoral care, staff transitions, and all that other ordinary stuff that makes pastoral ministry so extraordinary.
Which goes to say, my experience with “Children of Eden” would have been flat-out impossible for me without my incredibly amazing and infinitely supportive wife Erin, the absolute love of my life and my best of best friends in the whole world. Not to mention our two exceptional children who just so happen to love the fact that their Daddy got to be on stage for this show. And the unbelievably gifted and talented staff of Campbell UMC who covered for me during weeks of rehearsals and encouraged me during weekends of performances. Plus the wonderful people of Campbell who bought tickets by the dozens and dozens and cheered me on and were so gracious in understanding why their sort of off-the-wall pastor wanted to do this weird, wonderful thing in the first place. Thank you, every single one of you!
I stood, hand stretched upward, head up, energy given, practically hovering in the air, surrounded by 50 of my best friends doing exactly the same thing, in the forever instant of time after our final cut off and before the blackout.
I had never before so desperately wanted a moment to last forever; I had never before been so grateful for a moment to pass.
“The time has come for us to begin our journeys.
We have no map - only the ways we most wish for ourselves.”
“Funny now how Eden doesn’t seem so far.”
“I cannot bear to feel this pain … but I would not go back again.”
“If no outer force will show you your course, you’ll have to look inside.”
“The hardest part of love … the rarest part of love … and the truest part of love …
… is the letting go.”
What is this feeling?
I think it might be love.