Go Away…and rest awhile…
Some friends of mine hosted a unique dinner party last weekend. Along with all the guests, they invited four Broadway musical performers and an accompanist into their home who offered a kind of “cabaret hour” after dinner. It’s an idea generated by the New Paradigm Theatre Company (nptheatre.org), a creative group of professionals who are trying to mix the arts with the overall community in fresh, innovative ways. I can’t even tell you how much fun it was, not only the treat of enjoying Broadway performances in the intimate venue of a living room, but also having dinner with the actors and being able to talk with them before and after the show.
I was especially struck by the fact that, although some of them knew each other beforehand, the actors and accompanist had never before worked together as a group! At this level of professionalism, just a couple of hours before the party were all they needed to put together a smooth and seamless show.
That kind of cooperation and creativity doesn’t just happen. Certainly it’s the result of hours of developing one’s gift and honing one’s craft. On top of all that, though, I think creativity also depends on experiencing something out of the ordinary and then having some time to process it. These extraordinary artists definitely gave me many things to think about, not the least of which is appreciating how much work (and even rejection!) goes into the career of someone at this level of theater. In return, our little audience may have returned the favor: after the show, some of the singers admitted how nervous they were to perform in such a “cozy” situation. They were much more comfortable on a stage with lights and a curtain, playing a certain distance from the theatergoers. Looking directly into faces and eyes, performing for people who are only feet away, was an experience for our new Broadway friends to digest and process for themselves. It will no doubt add to their future creativity in ways yet unknown.
Perhaps that is why, in today’s Gospel, the Lord emphasizes to his disciples the need to “go away….and rest awhile.” They had just come back from their own amazing experiences of healing and praying, adventures that must have jolted them on many levels. They needed time to understand and unpack these things in order creatively apply them. It’s like all the things that we’ve experienced together as a parish in the past year—in our sharing of God’s Word and in our social work, our births and deaths, the sicknesses we’ve recovered from, the healings we’ve experienced, the spiritual life drawn from liturgy and music, the speakers who have addressed us and the books we’ve read, the lessons we’ve taught and the ones we’ve learned, our new involvements and our missions accomplished—we some time to reflect and process these events. The summer weeks of July and August seem tailor made for such quiet reflection. A renewed and refreshed creativity will surely be the result.
I admit that my party experience wasn’t the trigger that initiated these thoughts from the Gospel, although they cemented the idea. The inspiration came last week in the supermarket when I felt a tap on my shoulder in the produce department. It was a woman I recognized although she’s not a parishioner. She simply wanted to let me know that she and her husband had “the most wonderful Lenten journey in your parish. The Triduum was especially meaningful.” I thanked her for her comments and walked away smiling. I thought how wonderful it was that someone was still thinking and talking about the Triduum four months after the fact—someone besides me, that is. Rich delightful food, even spiritual, takes time to digest! How awesome might be the creativity that results? A creativity that attracts and inspires more?
I won’t be surprised if I start seeing some Broadway folk showing up around here in the fall….