Sometimes people come to visit the Community and comment on things that I take for granted or just plain don’t pay attention to. Two of our teachers from Chicago were here to work with Elements Theatre Company as we prepared for Henrik Ibsen’s “Pillars of the Community” at the end of November. After two full days of working, one of them stopped and said to us how impressed she was by our commitment to each other. She had been working with three actors, and then sent two to go work on their scene, but they asked if they could stay as she worked with the third person, both to learn from her, and to support their fellow actor. She said how much this meant to her — to see our common commitment to each other, and to the process of doing our personal work which would allow us to be truthful in telling the story. Both teachers agreed that this is a special thing when you find it in a company. I was pondering this today because my first thought was “this is just what we do.”  But the truth is, we don’t have to. We could show up, learn our parts, and leave. But it’s not that we are so special — it’s actually a “by-product” of our commitment to God — our vows.  Our Rule of Life in the Chapter on the Vow of Stability says “Stability also involves a commitment to persevere with others in this place…we are promising to bear with one another at all times and to be always present for one another in the pursuit of God.”  Whether that pursuit is in our work, our artistic endeavors, or cooking a meal — we are not in it alone.  And that is special.  

“Next leg of the Journey”

by Renaissance Girl     
Four days left. Elements Theatre Company’s month-long study trip to Chicago is winding up and I can feel myself both shifting toward home, and rebelling against shifting towards home. We’ve settled into a rhythm here — different from home, but in a sense not so different, just a smaller community.  I hate the travel days in between and the first few days trying to settle back in.  I looked up the word “settle” and this was one of the definitions: “To discontinue moving and come to rest in one place.”  It’s the kiss of death in theater improv, grinding to a halt — don’t stop, there is always a “yes, and…”  This idea seemed to pull something into focus. Maybe the coming and going isn’t meant to be easy — maybe it’s actually about not trying to settle back in.

Seeking God In All Things

by Selah Seeker  

Those words are part of a mission statement on a bronze plaque I pass daily on the wall of the dorm where I am staying for a month in Chicago. Elements Theatre Company is studying for the next several weeks, expanding our repertoire to include the works of Henrik Ibsen and staying at Loyola University. What a gift! We who daily embrace all things Benedictine are enjoying the hospitality of this Jesuit institution as we seek to expand our understanding of Ibsen’s canon and learn new skills – skills that on this educational retreat (following previous trips to London and NYC) include stage combat – wow! Can’t wait for the swords and shields! I’ll keep you posted as the month progresses.

Running While Standing Still

I’m reluctant to admit it but I think the very thing I dread or complain about is the thing that may bring me the greatest sense of fulfillment…  
I was driving home today thinking “I’m tired of being in a rush….why couldn’t my life be simpler?”  And almost before the thought was over, there was a second one, “OK — well, what would you change?”  So I thought about it (as I do again every time I feel like moaning that I just can’t keep up).  I love singing in choir, I love being in band, I love theatre, and (dare I admit it) I feel a twinkle of what I think may be love growing for my new job. I love my dog, I love the people I live with, I love being with my friends…..   

Don’t get me wrong — I am anything but a big bundle of love walking around — but I guess my conclusion is, I’d rather wake up in the morning asking, “How am I going to do all the things I have to do today?” than “What am I going to do today?”


Lights, Camera, Auction

Much work and care culminated once again in this summer’s Charity Auction set up beautifully in a large tent by the bay.  God was very good to send favorable weather, and many hands – young and old – were active in putting it on to raise money for the needy and for the arts.  Time, talents, gifts, money: they all make up parts of our lives and we collaborate with the Lord in making them useful.  So it’s good to celebrate what He’s doing in our midst by continuing what we’re doing as best we can.

Terrifying and Fascinating

So, we were reading Ibsen’s play “The Lady from the Sea” last night in preparation for Elements’ study trip to Chicago in August. Towards the end of the play, one of the characters defines the word terrifying as “something that is frightening – and fascinating at the same time”, and I found myself today with that phrase rolling around in my mind. I started a new job a week ago – actually it’s something I have been involved in, off and on since High School, but this time feels different. I think that’s what was catching me – it’s “frightening and fascinating” – embarking on something new in life…  Amazing how we humans can feel so many emotions at the same time.  And when you think about it, they actually both feel rather the same – that butterflies in your stomach – roller coaster drop feeling –  that makes you want to gasp for air and laugh with glee at the same time.  Well… goes…..!

From Singing to Styling

This weekend was full of excitement! I sang with the choir in Evensong and Eucharist Pentecost services, marched in a Fife and Drum Memorial Day Parade, finished one of my last weeks of school, and helped with Elements Theatre Company’s  performance of  “The Dining Room”. I styled hair with my mother and sister (hence the salon name we gave ourselves, “Tingley’s Tresses” or “Tingley sTresses” depending on the situation). It actually went a lot better than I thought — given that it’s a mother and her two teenage daughters. I learned more about the play, about stage hair dressing, and about the ins and outs of behind the scenes work. I hope I can help with the next play.

Memories Relived

Last Friday night I attended opening night of  “The Dining Room” presented by Elements Theatre Company. Actually it is my sister-in-law’s dining room – but it could have been my dining room – or your dining room.  Sr. Danielle (Grace) could have been my mother (wow — did that bring back memories as I re-lived the reactions of her daughter Carolyn). Brad Lussier could have been my own “Father Knows Best”. The audience (who also played a role in this play) reacted in many different ways. Sometimes what felt very painful to me made other people laugh. Like reading a great book, I find myself thinking of the people in the Dining Room as real friends.

Better Than Espresso

Sometimes the most unexpected things catch me up short and give me a fresh shot of energy.  Getting out of bed was not easy this morning after two runs last night of our upcoming play “The Dining Room.” But I dragged myself to a brass rehearsal at 6:00am (leaving my dog snoozing soundly on his bed!)  The first perk was playing “Be Thou My Vision” – one of my favorites – with a great brass group – what’s not to love?  But what really caught my attention this morning, after slipping into my seat for Lauds and wondering if I’d make it through the service without falling asleep, was the introduction to the week’s hymn.  Our organist was telling us a little of the history of the text written by John Bunyan as he sat in a prison cell, having already suffered tremendous personal loss.  Singing his words I had one of those awesome moments where suddenly all life’s “problem’s” seem insignificant in the face of the hugeness of God and the fantastic and exciting adventure that it is to live the Christian life.
“He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.”
“Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,
I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.”