I. A SEASONAL PERSPECTIVE
I love the fall. Hands-down it’s my favorite season. And that seems odd to me. Living in the arctic north it seems more logical that summer or spring should hold the top seasonal spot in my heart after months of snot-sickles and numb, tingly appendages. But there’s something incomparably nostalgic about the gradual cooling and shortening of days in the fall, the warm comfort foods & desserts that begin to make a comeback, the winding down of the great ambitions of summer, the fresh vigor that comes with brisk temperatures and witnessing nature’s fleeting beauty, and the mild adventure of feeling comfortable & secure as the natural environment around us becomes more inhospitable. Fall is a time of Goldilocks comfort in so many ways. It’s not too hot. It’s not too cold. It’s just right.
But it’s also ephemeral.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Autumn until we get socked in the gut for the first time, standing waist deep in the white stuff, cursing with each back-breaking shovel scoop. But what enables me to really enjoy fall, rather than feeling depressed about it, is knowing that winter doesn’t last forever. The pain is only temporary. All things are passing. And of course there are winter holidays to look forward to and even a mystical beauty to the season that possesses the power to melt the snot-sickles of our cynical hearts if we allow it to do so. Even so, the prospect of endless winter would make anyone despair. Just ask the Narnians.
The key to enjoying fall and, indeed, the key to enjoying/tolerating/surviving anything in life is contained in a simple four letter word… Hope. But finding, possessing and maintaining hope in the midst of dark, enduring circumstances can be more difficult than it seems.
There’s natural excitement in the change of any season because change offers the possibility of new beginnings. Fall would be extremely depressing if there was no hope of new life on the other side of the death of winter. Thankfully, death does not have the final say when the promise and hope of new life exists. There are many problems and many crises in the world–there always have been and there always will be. Humanity’s greatest challenge is not our ability to immediately and perfectly solve every problem. Our greatest challenge is to find and offer hope no matter the problems we face.
II. ENJOYING THE RIDE
Our ordeal (to put it politely) with Open Window Theatre over the past 18 months–having intensified in the last 8 months–represents one of the most difficult, dark, and personally upending experiences of my life. In other words, it ain’t been easy. And it’s not over yet.
But this long journey has been indelibly marked by unmistakable blessings and teachable moments, which I’m starting to really appreciate and put into perspective. To be honest, it’s also been marked by moments of personal failure and weakness, but that’s all part of the journey too. I’m someone in need of redemption and I find comfort and strength in that.
Back at the beginning of May–after we were forced to postpone our spring production of Mark St. Germain’s Best of Enemies but before we knew that we’d be going to court with our landlords, and before we knew that we’d have to cancel Season 6 and move out, and before things got really (no, I mean reeeally) dire financially, my father-in-law sent me a text message one morning that read: “In prayer this morning the Father told me to tell you everything is going to be fine and to enjoy the process.”
That’s it. Short and sweet. After reading the message, three things were running through my mind…
- Enjoy what process? A “process” refers to something specific, but there was no “process” underway at that time. Things were still up in the air and we were hopeful that we could resolve matters with our landlords and the city in order to continue our 6th Season as planned.
- It’s easy to say that everything will be fine…but what if it isn’t?
- If God really is speaking here, then why is he speaking to YOU about this and not ME!? I consider myself to be on speaking terms with the Almighty, so why use a (text) messenger to speak to me rather than speaking to me directly??
Regardless of the answers, I was grateful for the encouragement and it did fill me with a sense of consolation.
Then, a mere four days later, we received an eviction notice from our landlords. It was clear that the “process” had begun. In June we found ourselves in housing court and by the end of August we had voluntarily moved out of our original home for OWT, putting everything into storage, temporarily canceling Season 6. Once the eviction action was dismissed by the court, we promptly filed suit against our former landlords and are now headed towards a long jury trial seeking damages for the theatre. Yep, the “process” is now chugging along full speed ahead!
But I have to admit that I was having a hard time enjoying it. We were decimated financially. I had to lay off our staff, including myself. Our bank accounts (both corporate and personal) were overdrawing. And I was walking away from a space that I had poured everything into over the past five years–all of my hopes, dreams, blood, sweat and tears. It may sound trite, but it’s true. My entire livelihood was caught up in OWT and we had built up some great momentum. Suddenly, I was unable to provide for my family and I had no idea what to do. I was experiencing a serious inner storm (more like a hurricane, actually) and a sense of paralysis that I had never felt before. I was frustrated and angry. Angry in part at God’s apparent silence…hour after hour…day after day…week after week…silent to my suffering. I had lost a sense of purpose and direction.
And yet, in the midst of this maddening and confusing mess, we have been (and continue to be) blessed with tremendous gifts, acts of generosity, and opportunities that we would never have experienced otherwise, from Champion’s Club tickets to a Twins game, to free family passes to the Minnesota Zoo, to incredible, humbling, and even miraculous acts of kindness, generosity, and support towards my family. In other words, there has been much for me to enjoy in the midst of the chaotic “process” playing out around me, and to really enjoy each experience one day at a time requires a radical trust and hope that everything will be okay in the end.
This journey is far from over, but I’m now in the midst of studying to become a full-time Certified Personal Trainer as we await the redemption and return of Open Window Theatre. And looking back from this mid-point in the journey I can honestly say that there’s already been much in this process I’ve truly enjoyed. And I’m resolved to enjoy this rollercoaster ride ever more consciously moving forward. Because just like the dreary months of winter, nothing lasts forever. The pain is temporary. And causes for hope abound. Some are staring us right in the face (like my 6 yr old, my 4 yr old, my 2 yr old, and my 5 mo old). Some we have to look around for and perceive with a gracious heart, and others we have to simply get off our backside to create. But they’re there.
In recent weeks I’ve come to know–truly know–that everything really will be fine. We experienced a small
but encouraging legal victory in September, which bolstered our confidence. Our business bank account has since gotten back into the black and we’ve now been blessed with a $5,500 matching gift for Give to the Max this week. Last month after I latched onto the personal training track as a fast-track solution to my unemployment situation, we were blessed with some unsolicited personal gifts that have provided our family what we need financially to cover the gap period until I can get certified and employed.
Sarah and I are beyond humbled and are deeply grateful for the many family, friends and patrons who have rallied to support us and uplift us over the past several months and who continue to do so. I’m also grateful to a God who will resort to text messaging in order to get my attention. Of course, He had been trying to speak to me directly, but I was having a hard time listening due to the cacophony of negative distractions that were constantly echoing through my mind & heart. My father-in-law’s text is what I needed to start to piece everything together and remains a source of consolation for me eight months later.
And I can’t say enough about the deep gratitude we have for the many generous volunteers who helped us with our monumental move out of Metropolis this past summer. Thank you for all your hard work!
Know that we are praying daily for ALL of you–patrons, donors, volunteers, staff, casual observers, and yes, even our enemies. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates and sign up to follow this blog because this crazy journey isn’t over yet!!
Founder & Exec-Artistic Dir.