Bosque Center for Spiritual Living got to shine brightly last night and I woke up feeling pretty darned proud of us this morning.
Because our community vision includes a special focus on the arts, we had been invited to create “something theatrical” for one of the evening programs at this year’s Centers for Spiritual Living online convention.
(Many of you already know this because a bunch of you were a part of it, but I want to offer some context for those who might not have any idea what I’m talking about).
Performance has been a tricky prospect this past year while we’ve been unable to get together in person. But we’ve been exploring and trying out different ways to make such things happen all along — our monologue-writing workshop and showcase, and our current “Squatch” project, for examples — so I was pretty confident that we’d be able to come up with something that truly reflected who we are as a community:
Something different, relevant, fun, and collaborative.
For me, our spiritual rubber always meets the road in collaboration, when we get our heads out of the conceptual clouds, get our feet underneath us, and actually start co-creating with each other. This applies to whatever we happen to be up to — artistic endeavors, worship services, community partnerships, study and personal growth, or service and justice work.
I also think that trying to make things as fun as possible is a distinguishing characteristic of our community. I mean, why not? It behooves everybody. There’s plenty about the world that isn’t a whole lot of fun. And spirituality and religion certainly can be a heavy drag if we aren’t intentional about it. So my philosophy is that if we’re going to put time and energy into something, anything, then let’s have as good a time as we can with it.
For our presentation at the convention, we were given a title: “One Mind. Infinite Connection.” This was the theme for the entire week of programming, including talks, workshops, business meetings, and whatnot. I anticipated that already there were likely to be a lot of sermons around the subject.
So instead of approaching this title as a topic for our theatrical piece, I thought it might be more interesting to let it guide our process.
Together, we wrote one continuous 10-minute monologue of line-by-line free association.
We did it all through text and email, with minimal explanation. I started us off with the line, “Wow. It’s good to see you.” From there, each participant was given just the previous line as a prompt, without any context, and invited to contribute the next line. I shaped things a little as we went, just to keep it from going totally off the rails into utter nonsense, but allowed as much free rein as possible — hopefully, just enough nonsense. Yowza, it was interesting (at times disconcerting, at times strangely arousing) to see where our minds took us.
We ended up with something that isn’t just a stream of consciousness, but more of a babbling brook of consciousnessES. It includes and conveys the multiplicity of consciousness. One Mind; Infinite Connection.
Then we filmed it. This, too, was done line-by-line, or with fragments of lines, and it got even more whackadoodle. Twenty-five people participated in the writing process, and fifty-seven of us performed it. Y’all are charmingly freaky, my friends. It was kind of like a game of “telephone” and kind of like MadLibs.
Performers were given only their individual lines, again with no context. Nobody got any of the lines that they themselves had written. I offered almost no direction. In most cases, people recorded themselves on their own devices in their own locations. Some folks wore costumes, some adopted accents (totally of their own accord). A few people changed their lines, whether on purpose or accidentally, I have no idea. One of the fun parts of the whole thing was that we got to include friends of our community who don’t live here in Albuquerque. I collected all the different parts — and I’ve gotta tell you, this stretched every organizational muscle in my body — and edited it all together into our weird and wonderful final product.
I feel like it illustrates beautifully how our deep connection can — and has — spanned the physical distances between us.
The whole thing was a spiritual practice of audacious faith. What a leap of faith! To let it happen, not knowing where it was headed… Practicing not needing to know how or when or if it was going to come together, and yet aware of the fact that we had a deadline and that this thing was going to be viewed by hundreds of people online last night…
Every single participant was spectacularly generous and trusting, simply going for it, contributing the pieces and working on the puzzle without being able to see the big picture on the box top. Indeed, the secret was that there never was a box top! We didn’t know what we were creating together until we’d completed it. That feels like a metaphor for something — life, I guess.
I think, all in all, it turned out to be a perfectly marvelous representation of CONVOLUTED, SELF-EXPRESSIVE, UNLEASHED CREATIVE TOGETHERNESS.
And I’m delighted to share it with you this weekend — presenting “Reunited, And It Feels So…” online at BOSQUECSL.ORG and VIMEO.COM/BOSQUECSL this Saturday, February 20, premiering at 6pm. It will be available forever after for you to view and share at your convenience. Bravo, everybody! XO, Drew
©2021 Drew Groves