My work with Chadash has given me so much more than I could have ever imagined or anticipated. It is no secret that I have been battling cancer for the last few years. During that time, I’ve learned some significant life lessons. For example, I know that I have no control over the medical circumstances my cancer generates, but I have full control over how I respond to them. I’ve learned that when I think I have reached the end of my ability to withstand a challenge, I am actually only two thirds of the way there. I have learned that joy is a choice, available to me regardless of the challenges I face. That’s true for all of us, but sometimes we need a cataclysmic life event to bring that truth home. And what’s of equal value is that I have learned what courage is, and what it is not.
There are many things that bring me joy, but nothing more so than fueling and exercising my creative spirit. I was born to be creative—to write, to paint, to teach, to direct. Each of these is an act of creativity that transports me to a place of deep joy. When Kelly and I work together to create a new concert, building on ideas, collaborating on concepts, imagining characters and their relationships and the themes that drive them, we are like a couple of tiny kids building a fort in the backyard out of odds and ends and sundry bits. Our laughter is infectious, our ideas grandiose, our camaraderie perfect. For us, the work is play. And in that play, my joy is manifest and made complete.
In this zone of creativity, there is no awareness of illness in me at all. There is no room for it. I am whole. My mind is unfettered and free. My body fills with energy (for the moment, anyway) and my spirit soars. It’s hard actually to put into words, but I know that it has something to do with living with no fear in the zone in which I was created to operate. Having found that vocational avenue that brings together all of who I am and connects me with this soul mate who shares a vision and a passion and a willingness to step out in faith, allows for the acceptance of whatever creative lightning bolt from the heavens shows up to strike us and ignite a spark that invariably becomes a blazing flame.
We build. We disagree. We agonize. We discover. Eureka! We encounter problems. We worry. God shows up. We overcome. And most of all, we grow. We sharpen one another, encourage one another, hold one another up in prayer. As in life, not everything turns out the way we would wish. But we are learning over and over that things do seem to turn out as they were meant to be. And we are learning to have both grace and courage along the way when things do challenge us. Because at the end of a show, when the costumes go back in the bin and the Marley floor gets rolled up and returned, I know exactly what my body is fighting. The physical challenges are real. Even so, they seem to become lesser in light of the great gift of creativity once again on the horizon as we look forward to our next concert. How blessed is a human being who has had the opportunity to discover that sweet spot where Vocation meets Passion and gives birth to Art!