Monday, November 17, 2014

On Being Seen

By Jennifer Denning

The greater purpose is that we're communing together and we want this moment to be really special for all of us. Because otherwise, why bother to have come at all? It's not about proving anything. It's about sharing something.

- Yo-Yo Ma

When I was a child I delighted in putting on puppet shows and plays for my family. My family tells stories about me entertaining guests around the campfire with my comedic impersonations. What is it about this need to be seen? To entertain? To perform?

Three sentence stories during "A Gratitude Evening" with the Soulprint Players
-photo by Dean Hesse
I studied acting in college and moved to Atlanta to pursue a career in theatre in my early 20’s. It was enlivening and difficult. Beautiful to play parts I connected with. Challenging to be cast in a role I couldn’t quite grasp, painful to lose a part I knew I could play, and underlying it all the need to be seen.

In my mid 20’s I explored a spiritual path that led me to ministry. I never wanted to stand up in front of a congregation every Sunday, but I did want to explore how the expressive arts and spirituality intersect. I delved into the path of releasing the need to be seen. I sat in meditation and touched glimpses of surrendering into that something more that doesn’t need outside validation. I danced and let the dance dance me. And this was beautiful, and challenging and painful. Beautiful to touch those moment of surrender. Challenging to face those needy parts of myself and painful to hold myself up to some idealized picture of what a “spiritual” person should be.

The Soulprint Players embracing our complicated humanity
-photo by Dean Hesse

Nearly fifteen years later I direct the Atlanta InterPlay performance group, the Soulprint Players. We had our first performance last night. The performance had moments of beauty, moments of laughter and moments of awkward humanity too. And here I sit this morning in complete happiness about it all. There is something about embracing the full soup of myself that frees me, makes me kinder, renders me more whole. Yes, I am a part of the great “I am!," And yes, I am a complicated human being too! What a gift to share the full range of our bodyspirited humanness with each other.

There is still a part of me that wants to be seen, that part of me doesn't need to go away,  but alongside it rests this larger impulse- this shift of perspective that simply allows myself to be seen, This expansive self also delights in seeing you. InterPlay performance is not a demand to be looked at; it is a willingness to be seen- it is a gift, a joy, a communion.

So grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer it has been so special to be on this part of your journey with you. Thank you for the gift of this performance group for our InterPlay Atlanta community. You have created and formed us together and let us co-create with you as you lead. What a fun night we had together on this premier of the Soulprint Players. It was rich with our amazement and awkward humanity. Yes to this willingness to be seen and to ask the questions about our desire to be seen. Yes to the full soup of who we are. Great blog!