Thursday, 10 March 2016
Midweek musing: practicing presence
It is Wednesday. On Wednesdays I post a 'midweek musing', a kind of disciplined practice of writing, a regular 'presence' in this space.
This Wednesday, I am paradoxically empty of all thoughts or musings, and also brimming with the connections and ideas I will pick up and ponder one by one in great detail over the next year.
Today I present the embodied interpretation of the New Testament letter to the Romans I have been preparing for the past 6 months – or 9 months since the first year review board, or 18 months since I arrived in Scotland, or years of dreaming and planning in Adelaide. This performance is a test case for a new approach to biblical interpretation I have been playing with for a while. This performance will be filmed and the recording form a chapter of my PhD thesis.
And when it is done, I will continue to rehearse for one month more, taking the performance to Adelaide in April to engage with the letter with a different audience.
When that is done, I return to Scotland and write. Write about the experience of embodying this letter. Write about how the method I thought might emerge did in fact work, or not. Write about the story of others engaging with the bible and performance so that I can put myself into the story.
But for today, I breathe deeply to calm the nervous anticipation for an hour long awaited. I focus my attention and my energy on this letter, its message, and the audience among whom I will bring it to life. I press pause on the discussion I will write about this translation question, that gesture, those emotions ...
This Wednesday I could think about so many things, muse on Paul's theology, Christian community, human fear and love, biblical scholarship, imagination. I could imagine all the connections my audience might make, all the opportunities that might come from this project as I tell its story. I could remember the journey to get to this point, the luck and hard work and serendipity and Spirit guidance. I could analyse this decision over that word, worry over that tricky transition, stress at all the expectation - most of it my own.
It is Wednesday. The discipline of writing names the myriad thoughts so as to empty them out for a while. For the presence demanded of me now is in this moment, this letter, this audience, and the Sacred encounter this evening offers.