Written and presented by Lester Shane
There is a moment in the theatre that always thrills me. The house lights go down. It is completely dark and absolutely silent. It is a moment of infinite possibility. Then the curtain goes up and standing in the light are actors. In the light they begin to reveal the truth of the text.
I think God lives there. The play continues in dialogue with the audience. I think that’s prayer. With each performance that relationship is reinvented. In study with Rabbi Lauren, she has helped me understand that I get to reinvent God and my relationship with the Divine each day… In each prayer. Even in a fresh breath. She shared the teachings of a Hasidic Master who believed that without a daily reconception, we make God static, frozen –without new life in that relationship we risk idolatry.
Just as that miraculous moment of stage transcendence takes effort and rehearsal, so prayer and building a relationship with God takes devotion and practice. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes: Prayer requires education, training, reflection, contemplation….This is particularly true in an age when overwhelming forces seem to conspire at destroying our ability to pray…. [Prayer] is like a beam thrown from a flashlight before us into the darkness. It is in this light that we who grope, stumble and climb,… discover where we stand, what surrounds us, and the course we should choose…..Sometimes prayer is more than a light before us, it is a light within us. He writes, “It is not enough for me to be able to say, “I am.”
I want to know who I am and in relation to whom I live. It is not enough for me to ask questions, I want to know how to answer the one question that seems to encompass everything I face: What am I here for?” I seek that in theatre, in schul, and in prayer, yearning for the truth of the text to be revealed in the light, and the truth of the Light to be revealed in the text.