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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Space Between

Until recent years, I have always considered myself something of a thespian.  Drama was my passion in high school and in early college.  Even after college, I pursued acting, taking classes and even participating in the odd audition here and there.  I scored some minor roles and some offers to be part of the crew and work my way up with various companies.  I had not only an inflated ego when it came to the word "crew," however, but a busy schedule, what with practicing law and all, so I actually performed very little.  If you don't count jury trials.  Those tend to involve some high drama.

Once Eddie was here, all my aspirations to the stage faded into the background and my life's drama became the focus.  And what a drama it was.  Enough triumph and tragedy to inspire any playwright and enough angst for any good Method actor.  Unfortunately, I was not portraying a part and returning to a gentler, easier life when that performance was over.  I was living it, trying to play my part as well as I could, to comfort my little one and glorify my Creator.

In the first three years after the curtain went down on Eddie's final act, I had no desire for theatrics of any kind.  It has been a quiet period, soul-wise.  I have been busy in the task of raising two small children which brings much joy and hilarity, but can at times seem rather mundane and, let's face it, downright pedestrian.  I love my children and I'm grateful for the privilege for raising them myself.  But if someone were filming my life right now, it would not draw much of an audience.

For the most part, I have been content with this new reality.  But I have moments of longing for the excitement of younger days.  Recently I went to see 25th Anniversary production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera."  It was a one time performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London but they were simulcasting it to select theatres in America.  So my sister bought us tickets for a Dallas showing and we were able to experience it in all its majesty (sans jet lag).  

Sitting in the crowded movie theatre but seeing and hearing the sounds of people taking their seats in Albert Hall, my heart began to beat faster.  I knew what was coming.  One of my favorite life experiences:  the moment after the house lights dim, just before the curtain rises and the play begins.  There is such delicious anticipation in that moment as an audience member, an electric current in the hush that falls over the crowd.  I love it as a spectator.  

But, even more, I love it as a performer.  The thrill of that moment defies description.  The fear and excitement.  The fact that at that one moment you cannot recall a single line but you know that in mere seconds you will be in action.  That all eyes will be on you and you will become someone else, the words you so arduously memorized will become your words, the stage directions your actions, the emotions your feelings.  It is like jumping from a cliff.  It is the breath before the first kiss.  It is intoxicating.

For two beautiful hours, I vicariously lived through the madly talented actors on stage.  I reveled in Webber's powerful score.  I wept, I laughed, I was transported.  It was a magical afternoon.  I watched as the actors took their bows before the sold out crowd, who were on their feet, applauding wildly (standing ovations are rare in Great Britain and therefore a tremendous honor).  I thought of how that must feel.  What a pinnacle moment that must be:  to deliver the performance of a lifetime and receive a standing ovation at the Royal Albert Hall.

I began to feel an unhealthy yearning for a life other than my own.  But I caught myself.  Because I know those actors left that stage to return to rather ordinary lives themselves.  They have troubled relationships, ordinary tasks to perform, worries to overcome.  Life is life all the way around.

What is extraordinary about life are those moments when it transcends itself.  When you take one step away from the world and one step closer to the divine.  We have the opportunity to experience these moments every day.  To live more and more in the moments of anticipation, in the space between what we were experiencing a moment ago and what we are reaching toward and expecting to experience in our future. If we comprehend that God has adventures for us, every day, then every morning we can awake and be excited.  They won't always be pinnacle moments.  They won't always be in a dramatic locale.  We may have to search a little to find them, but they are there.  They are to be found in nature if we will look and reflect.  I find them all the time in music or while watching a great movie or play.  They are in museums and in books.  They are at sporting events.  They are in the eyes of our children.  They are in creating, in doing, in being.  We are just too busy complaining to experience them.

Today I want God to dim the house lights.  I want to hear the voices diminish and a hush settle over my busy mind.  And I want to feel the excitement of something great that is just a moment away.  Something unexpected, beautiful and brilliant.  Because the yearning I feel is for Him and He never disappoints.  Whether I am on the stage in what comes next or sitting gleefully in my seat, I am ready to experience everything He has for me.  I don't have to be bored or dissatisfied; I can thrive in the space between, relishing the peace of the moment and awash with joyful anticipation of what is to come.

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