Tuesday, April 03, 2007

On Being Tired And Resurrection: The Show Must Go On

Dearest and cherished readers,

It is rainy and cold again today, and promises to remain that way through Friday.

PeaceBang's spirit is saying, "It's HOLY WEEK! It's JESUS TIME! Get up and dance, girl, proclaim the good news, live the sacred story, bring on the faith and the passion, rejoice!"

And PeaceBang's body is saying, "Do we have to get out of our pajamas? Are you sure we have to get out of our pajamas?"

So the body and the spirit are consulting with one another and making compromises. The body says, "Listen, we did great work last week even though we had a nasty stomach bug -- we showed up for people, we crafted a lovely funeral service for someone we loved and presided at it on Friday, we put pedal to the metal all day Saturday and came up with a really creative Palm Sunday service which we led on Sunday morning with a tremendous amount of energy and engagement. PLUS, we got all dressed up several times last week, with hair and make-up and everything, when we really didn't even want to get out of bed and couldn't digest anything. How 'bout some COMBAT PAY, here?"

And the spirit says, "I hear you. I totally hear you. You are terrific, you're awesome, you rock. Thank you. But really, this is HOLY WEEK and I can't give you a break quite yet. Please please PLEASE could you come through for me again? And then in late June we can just totally collapse?"

The body says, "LATE JUNE? Are you NUTS? JUNE!? Tell you what, spirit. You go find me a good Minister's Wife to take care of all the things that need doing around here, like cooking, laundry, cleaning, errands and keeping up personal relationships with family and such, and we can talk about my taking off time in JUNE."

Spirit: "I'll talk to my people and we'll see what we can do."

Can I get a witness, pastors? Did Paul not know what he was talking about when he said that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak? It's one thing when our mood matches our physical weariness -- when we're grumpy and cranky, and the body feels like a big leaden lump we're dragging around with us.
But when our spirit is up and full of good mojo, brimming over with bright ideas and plans, and the body refuses to get with the program the spirit has laid out...?

What do you do?

PeaceBang has made a decision. Having given the body lots of rest yesterday, she is going to push it a bit today and see how it does. She is going to get to the gym and gently drag it onto the treadmill and maybe onto the elliptical cross-trainer in the hopes that some blood flowing through the veins may enliven it. She is going to wash and style her hair-- the mere notion of which seems tiring right now -- and put on some lipstick. She may even schedule a massage, and (pagan alert!) do a ritual of strengthening tonight as the full moon begins to wane.

The point is, darlings, there is a time to rest and heal, and a time to say, "Alright now, up and at 'em." There is a time to pray for strength (I did all last week and was abundantly blessed in response) and a time to take the reins ourselves and say, "I can keep slowing down until I stop, or I can kick up my engines a bit, do what I know how to do to increase my energy, and go for it."

PeaceBang comes from the theatre world where we had an old expression that says,"The show must go on." It is no different in religious leadership. Not only must we remain vigilant that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in God's sight, but -- and this PeaceBang's gospel -- we should even have our hair done and our lipstick on and our suits pressed and our smiles authentically in place when we appear in community to do this work.

Yes, it can be exhausting and we can become truly depleted. But darlings, trust me on this one, unless we have a medical condition that prevents us from showing up to do the work of the Lord in the most beautiful condition possible, we should try to do so. Because you know, I know, and God knows that the sense of dignity, self-esteem and other-esteem that comes from being well-turned out is a big part of how we reinvigorate the tired body at the end of winter or any time.

Let me tell you a story, powder pigeons. You may have heard this before.

When PeaceBang was 17 years old, she was the Star Of the School Play,"Bells Are Ringing." On the Tuesday before opening night, she returned home from dress rehearsal to see a lot of cars in her driveway. Full of herself and her incipient stardom, Young PeaceBang thought to herself, "Oh, everyone's coming in early to see the show!" But it was not the case. MotherBang met her at the bottom of the staircase to give her the shattering news that her father had died of a heart attack that afternoon. The cars in the driveway belonged to PeaceBang's uncles, her father's brothers.

That Friday, April 5, 1983, Young PeaceBang arose, dressed in a lovely turquoise blue dress and attended her adored father's funeral at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Westport, Connecticut. After the funeral, she had her hair done by Bobby Cuda at his salon, and at 6:30 that evening she arrived backstage to begin making up for opening night. By 8:00 p.m. she was onstage in the role of the effervescent character Ella Peterson, and took her bows at 10:30 p.m.

Of course I could have chosen not to appear in the show. Everyone would have understood: the cast, the crew, the orchestra, the proud parents and friends who were looking forward to seeing their loved ones perform in the pit or on the stage. But Young PeaceBang knew something that she believes yet today: the show must go on, because "the show" -- whatever it is, is a transcendent reality in and of itself that represents the collective vision and effort of a community, and must therefore be honored.

The Easter story could have ended like this: "And the tomb was empty, and God resurrected Jesus from the dead and he lived for many peaceful years in a cave far distant from Emmaus, meditating on the wonders of the LORD and praying for the people."

But it didn't. It ended where it began, in community, where it continues today and where it never ends.

You, my friends, have the glorious charge of bringing that story alive in the hearts and lives of your people. So buck up, shine up, wake up, step up, get backstage early enough to do your hair and make-up, learn your lines, say your prayers, warm-up with your orchestra, stretch out those dancing limbs, and give yourselves over body, mind and soul to the incarnation of this Good News. PeaceBang is telling you, wherever you are, however weary you think you are, you have it within you. Go bring it. Give the gift.

Carl Davis Weinstein
December 19, 1933- April 5, 1983
His ashes are interred beneath the pear tree in front of the New Canaan Police Station on South Ave. just outside of town on the way to Darien. There is a plaque. His obit in The New York Times claims that he has a degree from University of Connecticut and a master's from Columbia. Someone was padding his resume post-mortem, as he had neither an undergraduate nor a master's degree!! I know he took some courses at UConn, but as far as I know, he never got anywhere near Columbia. I have no idea where that came from!
Bells 1983
Young PeaceBang pictured backstage in very scary stage hair and make-up (but those upper arms! Ah, youth and bygone slim figures!) with Christopher Jeffries as "Jeffrey Moss." Chris is a noted American composer living in Seattle. http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=15922



Blogger Jeannie said...

But God also told us to keep the Sabbath! Make sure you rest so your body doesn't REALLY revolt! Eat yummy healthy things and drink lots of fluids...

I'm sure plenty of your readers can relate to pushing themselves so hard that the body said, "ENOUGH!"

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Kim Hampton said...

There's an "urban"(a fancy way of saying ghetto) book that came out sometime last year that is titled "Every Woman Needs A Wife". I've always thought that...especially women who are in the caring professions.

Take care of yourself...otherwise your "wife" will be a hospital bed due to exhaustion.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous kate setzer kamphausen said...

Love you, Ms. PeaceBang (though I know you only on the intarwubs!). I am going to yoga class tonight and I will "make my intention" to be strength and gumption/get-up-and-go for you.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous jinnis said...

An amen and a witness, yes. Yes.

Thank you for once again telling the story about your father and going on with the show.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Purechristianithink said...

I've hinted broadly to several amazing pastor's widows that I know that they could start a business. They know what needs to be done, they did it for decades and they could be earning TOP DOLLAR in their retirement from harried clergywomen to do pastor's wife stuff for us. So far though, no takers.

Thanks for the story about your Dad.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Oh. My. Goodness.

I just followed a linky over here from Life Actually, and can’t believe I never found this place when I was actually a believer. You rock.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

PB, I hold you in my heart on this sad anniversary. 24 years. I'm so sorry you lost your father when you were so young.

Something very similar happened when I was in Babes in Arms in high school. The father of Val, the male lead, had a heart attack and died between opening night and the remaining three performances. Val continued to perform, grim and determined offstage and just as bright and cheery as ever onstage. He knew the show had to go on. Coincidentally, he was the son of a minister.

I know of ministers who have had terrible things happen in their families who have shown up and led services and preached and not said a word about the tragedy. They were waiting until they could talk about it with their congregations without turning into helpless sobbing heaps. I understand. It's professionalism, but it's not easy.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you. I am not actually a minister per se, but this was much needed and pertanent to my life right now.

3:47 PM  

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