I love the fresh possibilities of springtime. With its cool temperatures and balmy breezes spring is a welcome harbinger of renewal, and it brings a feeling that all is well now that the light has returned to earth. The season of Easter, with its Pagan symbols and Christian metaphors, is a time of personal and spiritual rebirth. Right now I even have five tiny eggs and one protective mama Finch in a bird nest in my carport. Life, in all of its ingenious ways, does indeed go on!
It is also a season of personal reflection and renewal for me because it’s the time of the Florida Creativity Conference in Sarasota. These last twelve years we have met for a sunny spring weekend filled with creativity, laughter, inspiration, wisdom, introspection and connection. For the past three years I have been particularly fired up by the Sunday morning keynote speaker from the Florida Studio Theater. And this year’s notable gathering was extremely powerful because that’s where I met Nate Jacobs.
In years past many of my Easter sermons have included this quote by K.G. Durcheim: “There is a struggle that no one destined for a higher level is spared, that no one called to The Way can escape. It is a struggle that holds the ultimate promise but demands the ultimate effort: it is “dying and becoming” in the fullest sense, and not once, but as the Way’s everlasting rule and principle.”
The Way is the call of spiritual transformation that Nate heard, that I’ve heard, that Jesus heard, that many change agents have heard. If you want to change the world, you have to change yourself. In Nate’s talk he shared his personal journey of dying, to the life he thought he wanted, and becoming, as the founder/visionary/artistic director of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.
The theme of crucifixion and resurrection, or death and rebirth, is found not only in the Easter story, not only in numerous religious traditions, it’s also found at the heart of the artistic experience and creative process. The song of life’s dying is also the song of life’s rising, just as every inhalation and exhalation is part of one singular breath. In the Tarot deck the death card is not a morbid indicator of one’s limited mortality but is instead a profoundly beautiful symbol of transformation. “I have overcome the world” is the hallmark of the mystic’s path.
And for Nate, a mystic at heart, what was supposed to be a simple summer job working with the youth at his church blossomed into his soul’s call. As he looked around the theaters of Sarasota wondering, “Where are all the other actors who look like me?” he also thought that there must be other artists asking the same question. And he knew from personal experience that Sarasota was a city ready for a more inclusive climate of diversity. Then something clicked and the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place. You see, the vision is never just about us and our little lives. It’s also for the world because we never know who will be impacted when we whisper the sacred “Yes” heard in our souls.
As is often the case when we are faced with a noble but impossible dream, Nate thought that someone else would be the one to make it come true. Just when he decided that he could finally leave and go find the other life, the real livelihood that he thought he wanted, a fateful meeting with a total stranger at the airport was the turning point for him. “You can’t outrun your destiny, Nate.” As Daniel Nahmod sings in “Everything New,” “I’m through grieving/I’m through dreaming/That the life I had is ever coming back/No more wishing on someone else’s star that’ll never be mine.” So Nate finally let go and let God work through him.
The remarkable birth of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is the result of Nate’s surrender to his awe-inspiring vision. Their mission is “To produce shows that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, attract diverse audiences, support and develop African-American artists, and build the self-esteem of African-American youth.”
Nate’s theatre experiences taught him that the arts can be a place where all people can come together. They can be a place where the incredibly rich history of the diverse group of black artists in song, dance, story, theater and so much more can not only be preserved but gloriously expressed and appreciated. Most important, he understood that this next generation of artists — and we met several of them that Sunday — will have a home of their own that showcases their unique gifts to the world. Isn’t this the way change happens in the world?
And isn’t that the main message of Easter — that death cannot claim us? Death of body, heart, mind, life? We rise triumphant again and again so that something new can be born. We are always more than we can ever imagine. The Master Teacher said “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Or more artistically, as Nate Jacobs knows.
For more information on Nate Jacobs and the WBTT, Click Here.
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Through her ministry, “Doorway Into The Infinite”, Rev. Maria holds the vision for the transformation of the consciousness of planet earth. She is a spiritual change agent committed to… educating people in the process of healing… empowering the world one creative thought at a time… and experiencing peace in our lifetime. Her articles, essays, and meditations have been published in various magazines. She has self-published numerous books and manuals, and released two recordings of guided meditations. She’s created a variety of classes, workshops, and spiritual performance pieces, where she expresses her profound interest in spirituality and peace. For more information, she can be reached at her website: www.be-the-change.com or at her e-mail: RevMariaS@aol.com
Through her ministry, “Doorway Into The Infinite,” Rev. Maria holds the vision for the transformation of the consciousness of planet Earth. She is a spiritual change agent committed to … educating people in the process of healing … empowering the world one creative thought at a time … and experiencing peace in our lifetime. Her articles, essays, and meditations have been published in various magazines. She has self-published numerous books and manuals, and released two recordings of guided meditations. She’s created a variety of classes, workshops, and spiritual performance pieces, where she expresses her profound interest in spirituality and peace.