Friday, February 15, 2013

Heart the Arts

Last night was the second Heart the Arts performing arts festival at Wesley Theological Seminary. Twenty-three individuals and groups sang, danced, read poetry, played instruments, and told stories from the Bible and elsewhere. This was no mere “talent show.” This was an evening of professional-level performances by students, faculty, and staff members whose devotion to craft, to practice, to bringing their best to what they present was evident every moment.

I wish that I could describe every one of those moments, but the nature of any kind of art is that it is impossible to describe. After all, if the artists could say it in words, they would not have to dance or sing or play the flute or write a poem. Even when the text is the familiar words of scripture, hearing the story as if it the teller just got back from witnessing it makes the audience experience it as if for the first time. Telling the story with breathless pauses, looks of astonishment, and gestures that show what words cannot, bring scripture to life. As emcee Drew Colby said more than once, why would anyone just read scripture?

With live performance, even pictures are just a pale reflection, a mere reminder of the excitement of being together, of feeling the room vibrate with the low tones of the organ, of hearing the deep breathing and slapping feet of the dancer, of not knowing what will happen next. I wish that we had had the forethought to videotape the evening, so that those of you who couldn’t be there could experience at least some of that. But all I can offer are a few photographs, another kind of art, thanks to our LCAR student assistant Juyeon Jeon, who sent them to me this afternoon. Thanks to all the performers—too many to name here—without whom Heart the Arts could not exist. And many, many thanks to Amy Gray, our Program Administrator, who prodded and cajoled and pleaded for names and titles and times, and put together a program that took my breath away.

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