Friday, June 15, 2012

a voice for the voiceless: who do i choose to hear?

 "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? ...He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing..." 
~Deuteronomy 10: 12-13, 18~

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." 
~James 1: 27~

the set of Mythification, my first collaborative theatre experience. set design: Dale Marushy. photo: Kris Knutsen Marushy.

A dear friend of mine describes his personal philosophy as one of "giving voice to the voiceless". I too keep being drawn towards this cause. I have a growing awareness of the injustices that surround me, and I know that I can do something about them. And perhaps what I can is insignificant and small, but if I'm honest, it feels pretty big.

The beauty of this goal is that not only is it exactly what God calls us to do, but each of us, with our unique experiences, personality and calling, are attuned to different (silenced) voices.  As we discover and amplify these previously unheard voices, we will all finally begin to hear each other. The voices of my generation (supposedly ruined by an extended-adolescence and limited job market), those of my grandparents' age (who remember the wars and how things were different and the same), those of the people we pass everyday (but never meet their eyes), and those across oceans (who have seen things we cannot even imagine).

I do not suggest we neglect the physical needs of those with less, as to do so would be entirely contrary to God's heart. However, I feel that the Church must continue to elevate the value of persons in lesser circumstances as Jesus did, not ignoring their thoughts, feelings and stories. It is not enough to merely clothe or feed "the least of these", we must value their entire person hood. It is not enough to declare equality, we must actually realize equality.

I am a person of intuition, emotion and words. These are the things I have been given, and so they are also that which I have to give. I endeavor to do the things I feel called to do.
  • I am trying to make space in my life for the unexpected, for others, for grace. 
  • I am trying to really listen to people. 
  • I am trying to really see people, beyond what I usually see, to who they are. 
  • I am trying to use my words to express the things placed in my heart, hoping that these things will also mean something to someone else. 
This week in rehearsals, I was blessed by a moment of pure, goosebump-inducing theatre magic, when a collaborative piece in the rough stages of blocking went from being a battle between light and dark, to something far more redemptive. I suddenly saw that the light had something to share with the darkness and I encouraged them to not withhold their light. As it became less a battle, it became more a mercy mission. As their light pricked and stabbed the darkness, he fought back, tormenting and taunting that which he did not understand. I encouraged the darkness to find what it was he was after. Why torment the light, what benefit was there for him?  The answer, I believe, is that maybe, just maybe, if the light persists, there will be transference. Maybe, just maybe, if the darkness has the courage to reach out to the light, the light will get in and darkness will be dark no more.

This is what can happen when we open ourselves to the creative and life-giving impulses of our souls. What stories can we tell? What can we share with others? Only that which we are given and allow ourselves to give away. There we were, just a bunch of 20-somethings in a black box space, and we were singing a redemption song.

There are thousands of excellent plays already written, those that have garnered great acclaim. One day I will direct these plays.

Right now, however, I want to direct new plays. I have been given an opportunity and I choose to use it to listen to and amplify previously unheard voices. Everyday I am so excited by the things we discover, about the scene, the character and ourselves. And I cannot wait to share these stories with an audience. They are our stories and they're worth hearing.

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