A tale told by a redeemed child of God, full of grace and mercy, signifying… everything (with apologies to The Bard).
Looking back as the audience gathers
Thursday, Rebekah and I headed downtown to take in a show at Tampa’s Performing Arts Center.
We made the most of the clear, cool evening and arrived in time to stroll hand-in-hand along the river-walk before the performance.
The view from the promenade catches the best of Tampa’s city skyline. There, taking in the crowd, feeling the “buzz” that always precedes the curtain, everyone dressed nicely for an evening at the theater, we felt a just a wee-bit cosmopolitan and more than a swift crosstown drive from suburbia.
The production was Traces, an “Off-Broadway” show that fuses dance, acrobatics, street theater and musical. The result is a poetic narrative that’s less story and more demonstration. Tracescomes across like an extended jazz set where individuals emerge for solo spotlights before blending back in to the troupe.
We had second row seats, center stage. Five minutes in, the people parked in front of us walked out, so our view was unobstructed.
TAKE-AWAY: My “take-away” from the evening is the idea that life is one long, unrehearsed, example of “Performance Art.”
I don’t mean “performance” in the sense of contrived, or inauthentic. And I don’t mean “art” in the traditional understanding of aesthetic. But I do intend to suggest that, in our experience of “Living Faith Out Loud,” our most telling aesthetic is authenticity.
I’ve had this idea of life as performance art in the back of my mind since I memorized several scenes from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” as a teenager, including this poignant but cynical viewpoint:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. (Act 5:scene 5)
Evidently, Macbeth hadn’t met Jesus! But he’s spot on when he talks about life as a stage. And I believe it’s much more of a public stage for Christians than we want to acknowledge or to be accountable for.
My devotional scripture this morning came from the Sermon on the Mount. “People [do not] light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” It reminded me that – as Followers of The Way of Jesus we’re always on the stand; the world doesn’t read our PR material, it reads us.
IMPROV: I share a story in GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men, about wanting to play jazz and blues on my guitar. My friend Don gave me a book full with musical scales and exercises, but I was disappointed because I wanted to get directly to the fun stuff.
Don’s response? “You can’t improvise unless you have something to improvise from. If you don’t memorize all the scales first, you’ll be pulling from a dry well.”
When we “strut and fret [our] hour upon the stage,” when we pull on our shoes and socks and begin the day’s performance art that is our life, then the truth about the authenticity of our relationship with God is revealed.
In fact, authenticity is our most compelling aesthetic: A tale told by a redeemed child of God, full of grace and mercy, signifying… everything.