Thursday, April 30, 2009

Staging Old Masters

On the Saturday before Easter, my son and I had the time to go see a couple unique plays in St. Louis. One has already finished its run, but “Staging Old Masters” is still playing this weekend. The shows are free on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, which is down the street from Sheldon Hall. On their website they describe how the play came to be: “the Pulitizer [Foundation for the Arts]…in collaboration with Prison Performing Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, and Employment Connection—becomes home to an innovative theatre program in which former prisoners & formerly homeless veterans use the exploration of art and theatre to help develop skills for their future lives and employment.” For more specifics about times and location go to the following link:

During the evening the audience walks from painting to painting, and at the same time gets a glimpse into the perspective of each of the actors, as they creatively perform their response to the art. Many of the paintings depict biblical themes. It was an evening of being confronted with the transforming grace of God through art, as well as the various responses that we as humans have to the artists’ depiction of such lofty and lowly themes, such as heaven and hell. The struggle we as humans have with the “seven deadly sins” is the climax of the evening in the closing scene of the performance. In reality three perspectives are intermingled- the original artist, the performers and yours as a member of the audience.

I was struck by timeless theme of human need for divine intervention, as it was communicated through the Old Masters to the performers and then ultimately to me. The poignancy of the program lies in the fact that the performers themselves admit their personal struggle with temptation, and are living documentaries of how grace moves us away from ourselves into the redemptive love of God.

My son enjoyed it so much that he took a couple friends back last weekend. I hope you have time to check it out this weekend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
(Psalm 40:2 NIV)

This is a reflection I wrote the other day in response to the question:

“How am I choosing to be stuck?”

I am focusing on my weaknesses- trying to overcome them, instead of capitalizing on my strengths. I choose to believe lies. I choose to procrastinate. I give into fears and insecurities. I want instant change instead of accepting that life is one choice after another. It is very freeing in a way to realize that my “stuckness” is a choice. I feel stuck in my investments of time. I feel stuck as a parent. I am stuck in my ways- I chafe for change and then complain when change occurs. I am stuck in discontent.

I once again am stuck in the future- wanting what comes next more than embracing now. Being stuck in the future is hazardous to my mental and emotional health. I long for future joys to escape present pain. But joy comes through mourning. I have been sealing myself off from truly mourning the changes in my life. I am tossed about by emotions related to the natural process of children growing up and moving on in their own lives.

Another hard part of my life right now is standing by watching others who are stuck, too. I can’t make them choose to move forward, I have to trust God to intervene. I can ask God to capitalize on each of our strengths and to buttress our weaknesses. I need God to direct my investments, and to help me focus on a couple of my strengths. I get bogged down because I’m not sure which direction to take. I spend a lot of mental time “trying” to decide, which bogs me deeper into the muck and mire of my indecision.