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Archive for August, 2009

This is a God-story as much as it is anything.

It was 12 years ago last month that I first really saw mime. An excellent team presented several pieces throughout the week at camp and I fell in love with the art-form watching “In The Light.” I attempted a few of my own pieces during my senior year of high school and then got to see the team again the following summer, prompting me to add a theatre minor when I started college that year which got me into their “fresh faces” show where I teamed up with a senior theatre major and presented a mime piece. It was on stage that night that I felt God calling me to pursue mime. Another college student in the audience that night who attended the church I would later end up at would shortly thereafter recommend me to the pastor do to the children’s program at Friend Week and thus our college team was born. During the same time in doing research for a class paper I ran across Mimeistry’s website and then later that spring decided to look again and discovered an announcement for their summer workshop.

It was that first workshop, 10 years ago last month, that has perhaps had the most profound influence on these past 10 years and where I am today. Though the other God-directed steps were important, the workshop was key.

And so I would like to briefly spend some time reflecting upon my very first Mimeistry workshop and the profound effects it has had on my life.

First of all, some interesting & funny excerpts straight from my journal: “breathing class – think I nodded off during some of the relaxation parts! • Took elective on Todd Farley by Mimeography (oops, other way around). Was the first time I’d seen Todd. Seems cool. • Did isolations in first class. So fun! • All day I’ve been fighting between ‘I want to learn this’ and ‘I can’t do this.’ • Kelly took me to the ER between 7:30 & 8:00. Gave me Ultram. • I’m absolutely loving it here! I’m learning so much! • Basically stretching our improve muscles! Can you believe it – I got up and did something!”

Some other highlights I’ll never forget: Seeing these 2 guys (Cary and Chip) walking down the terminal at the airport at midnight, one in bare feet, and knowing they just had to be the mime guys who were there to pick me up (flight delays)… experiencing creative worship for the first time – with dancing and flags and banners and streamers and all… hanging out at the plaza in Kansas City and watching VeggieTales over the weekend with my new friends…

And then there was seeing Mimeistry perform for the first time. I’d missed orientation and knew nothing of them before my arrival at the workshop other than what I’d read on their website (and this was pre-YouTube days). So Sunday morning after the first week of classes I got to see them. My journal says they did 7 or 8 pieces. But this is what I remember – 7 Ways 2 Praise (with Chip as the 3rd guy who falls over bowing), Kelly doing a solo to “Breath of Heaven” on pivot (on pivot! I was awestruck!), Todd doing Ananias “sitting in the window praying,” and I’m pretty sure that was the first time I saw Marilyn do “Grain of Rice” (which I’ve seen several times since and could always stand to see again)… and it was the first time I ever saw Storyteller. The music and a few lines from that piece still echo through my head from time to time and make me absolutely yearn to see it again!

Those were good days. I learned so much. The past two weeks (currently) I had a young mime student here learning from me and I was amazed at how much I really did learn that first workshop and how much I remember (as well as how much I’ve forgotten)! And after that first workshop I attended 3 more consecutively (winter/summer) plus one in 2003… but I’m getting ahead of myself now….

So in addition to the mime itself – and let me tell you – a whole new world was opened up for me those weeks! – two things happened which pretty much changed the course of my life….

First of all, I’ll never forget that first Friday morning sitting in the chapel listening as Todd talked about the MAP program. He also talked about the mime college out in Pasadena (I’d never heard of such a thing) and for a few moments I feared God wanted me to quit Huntington and go there. But that wasn’t where God was leading me at the time – in fact, I remember God (as clearly as possible) whispering into my ear (or heart), “finish the course I’ve set you on for now, finish at HC.” So I did. But I also set about continuing with workshops and working on my own and getting stuff together to get into the MAP program. But there was something else that Todd mentioned that morning. He mentioned some seminary called Fuller (that I’d never heard of) that was working on a degree program for theology and arts. I’d never even heard of arts theology or biblical foundations for the arts until my first workshop… but that had pierced my heart as much (if not more than) the technique itself did.

And here’s the God part… remember how He’d told me to stay the course? Turns out, the year I graduated college and then (that fall) headed out to Fuller was the first year they officially opened up their theology and arts program! Even more so, because of my introduction in 1999, subsequent workshops, growing interest in arts theology and the fact that I finished my youth ministry degree at Huntington – I ended up hooking up with two great mime ministries, one of which I did my college internship through. And that is countless hours of me teaching and presenting mime across the states and – even cooler – countless hundreds of awesome people I have since met and been blessed by – and (so I’ve heard) God also used me to bless them.

This whole “creative arts consultant” thing which was really born out of a vision I had around 2003 – was actually from a seed planted and a course set back in 1999. Looking back now, 10 years later, it is so clear to see the hand of God at work in all of this!

The second big impact on my life began with a conversation I had with my mother during my first week of mime training. Now you have to understand that I had been having wrist problems for nearly 2 years on top of another host of health problems the docs could never seem to figure out. The pain is why I went to the ER during the workshop. Here’s another excerpt from my journal:

“Mime class on ‘characters’ extremely painful and disheartening. Sat out last part of the class. Tears trickling down my cheeks. Suffered through Pulpit Support. Basically kicked out of my group (‘cause of wrists)… Talked to Mom & Dad. Mom said Candy (her cousin) said my symptoms sounded like fibro-something that might disable me from miming. Praying and hoping with all my heart and all my tears it isn’t.”

But it was. I remember clearly standing at that pay phone in tears at the very moments I was falling in love even more with mime and listening to my mother speak the word “fibromyalgia” for the first time and tell me all the horrible things it entailed. I was diagnosed on August 6 1999. And nothing has been the same since.

On one hand it’s almost ironic that my greatest joy in life and my greatest hardship would coincide like that. To say that the past 10 years have been difficult would be a vast understatement. Doctors, medicines, questions, tears, symptoms… The fibro has seemed to throw a wrench into the whole thing. It has slowed down my own conditioning and training and progress in the MAP program. It has kept me from several things I would have liked to have done. And it has made many things so very, very hard….

And yet, and yet now, 10 years later, I can look back and see the hand of God in this, too – this time holding me up and providing me strength when my own was gone. I mean, how else can one explain the 4 other Mimeistry workshops plus the Saturday institutes that I’ve been to? Or how I got through college – and then seminary? Or how I’ve survived an Alaska trip plus two East Coast Mission Trips through AIM? Or taught dozens of classes at some 7+ AIM camps and workshops?

And then there is how papers and projects for all classes in seminary tended to revolve around two things – mime and arts theology or suffering. In fact, by the time I left seminary I had created some 5 solo pieces related to that topic (when I had no solo pieces coming out of college) and was able to do create (and present) a full solo show revolving around that topic less than a year after graduating seminary. Now THAT’s God.

So I still struggle with my fibro and its symptoms and I am still working towards completing those MAP requirements and getting even better at the mime. But as I’ve been reading through my journal entries from 10 years ago, I am simply amazed and awed by what God has done in my life. How He has guided and where He has directed and the countless numbers of people whom I love and respect dearly and celebrate that they are in my life . How He has provided and upheld and given strength and vision and dreams and talents and passions and joys…. God is simply AWESOME. And as much as this is my mime story, it is also God’s story.

So to those of you who taught me at that first workshop – Todd, Marilyn, Cary, Kelly, Helen, Barbara, Chip, Paul, Anita & Liz – I thank God for you!

And to those of you whom I met and became friends with at that first workshop – Tara, Sara, Stephen, Laura, Dan, Janine, Jane… I thank God for you!

And to those of you whom I have met since because of that first workshop – various Mimeistry (and now Innovo) students from 2000-2006, Fuller people, AIM people, Silent Witness people (all too many to name individually at the end of such a long post) – I thank God for you, too!

I simply thank God.

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