Last night, I had an experience I’ve not had in a very long time. A friend bought tickets to a Broadway show, an actual Broadway show, and we went to see “David Byrne’s American Utopia”. I had no idea what this was or what to expect. I was just glad to be out…with another human…surrounded by many more of them. This show was more of a concert, a “get up and dance at your seat” show. And yes, I will do a Covid test before I show up in church on Sunday.
David Byrne is the David Byrne of a rock group I’ve lived long enough to remember, Talking Heads. His engaging dialog, social commentary, and quirky manner segues into incredible performances by just a dozen musicians and dancers. It’s all very minimalist – the set is made up of what looked like mesh curtains which just blended into the background, with performers entering and exiting the stage by parting them and walking through. Other than some light fixtures above, there was nothing else on stage except performers and musical instruments which were all attached to their bodies, traveling along as part of them. The performers were all dressed in simple grey suits. They were all barefoot.
The intent of all this bare simplicity, which was disclosed by David Byrne as the show unfolded, was to strip away everything except that which was needed, that which was important, the audience and the performers.
And you know what? It was enough. And I’m left wondering if it would have been enough two years ago. The past two years have indeed been life-changing, perspective-changing. I already knew that I missed being with people and simply being out and having a fun evening. Then there I was, doing just that, but with a new feeling of just how precious our life together is, a new longing for things to return – not to the old normal – but to a refreshed normal, with new appreciation for the simple life-giving joy of community.
Community rejoices together and mourns together. Our city mourns Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora. I can’t help but juxtapose the joy I felt at the show last night with the cold and sad reality which is on my television screen right now as I write this letter, the funeral for Officer Rivera. But life will always hold joys and sorrows, as we’re all aware. It’s together, in community, that we need to embrace the joy and face the sadness and the struggles life brings. I think the isolation many of us have felt has made that point, I know it has for me.
I’m still quite a newcomer here at Incarnation. I’ve enjoyed meeting you but there are many I have not yet met in person. I look forward to the day we’re all together worshipping, rejoicing, under the same roof, in community. In community, we can help one another through the hurts and challenges but let’s remember that there will also be occasions to just get up and dance at your seat.