2020 – The Year of Enforced Liminal Space

Celtic theologian John Phillip Newell recently spoke at the virtual conference Beyond the Pandemic: How Shall We Live?

He says, “Celtic spirituality invites us into a deeper awareness of the sacred in one another and all things.”  He then noted a three-fold approach to this way of seeing:

  1. Let go of old ways of seeing that have failed to see and reverence the sacred in one another as races, as nations, as species, as religions.
  2. Reimagine new ways of seeing, or allow ourselves to dream of ways of seeing, living and relating we haven’t known before.
  3. Commit ourselves to beginning to live these new ways of seeing now as a way of preparing the foundations for a new day in our world.

Recently I spent a week on a silent retreat (a first for me) at Red Point, Maryland, a block off the beach on the north neck of the Chesapeake Bay.

Rabbit Trail: While standing in line to purchase sun screen and a hairband, I noticed this…

Hmmmm. I thought, I never done that either, paint my nails. Maybe this is a way to mark the days and carry something back with me.

As an artist, I traffic in the language of metaphor. Everything can be a metaphor; your receding hairline, the path you choose to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the first firefly of the season, the patch of skin on your lower back you missed with the sunscreen, the half and half that soured because you forgot it was behind the orange juice…these all could be metaphors—for life, for art.

So metaphors.

On one of my silent walks down the beach, avoiding people at all costs, I saw numerous downed trees. Well, I did talk to the dogs—dogs don’t count against a silent retreat, right? The roots were fully exposed, you could see the entire expanse of the root spread, and it’s not unusual to see fallen dead trees along the shore…

…except there is green growth out of each tree, sometimes just a couple of green sprouts, sometimes new limbs as big around as my arm. So…

… somewhere beneath the sand a root still grows down to water and soil and the nutrients still held there.

Perhaps a metaphor for new growth in this period of waiting, this period of mourning, and yes, this period of grief.

Most performing artists I know are in various states of denial, despair and development. We are all coming to the realization that it might be a year from now before people are legally allowed to gather in numbers that can sustain a traveling artist and company. In addition, there is a growing realization that should institutions, theaters, churches and schools even be allowed to gather, their first, second or even fifth impulse probably won’t be to book that concert or theater performance. All of these potential hosts will almost likely be facing significant challenges with finances.

As we wait for the turning of our world, we invite your financial support for Ted & Company as we re-imagine how we share theater and art with the world. You can make a tax-deductible donation through the Center For Art Humor & Soul. Live shows, our primary means of sustenance, has dried up. Where will the new growth come from at the roots of Ted & Co? What is opportunity and what is simply loss? And how to Newell’s words take root in us and in your own life? How we move forward is connected with all of you and what we value.

Grateful for the journey with you, friends. Things are not what they seem. May you begin to see the green new growth sprouting up from what is old and dying.

~ Ted

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