THis past Sunday, March 17, was the birthday of the late Bob Alexander, founder and director of the Living Stage Theater Company, which I served from 1977-1985. (Bob is seen here with the late Rebecca Rice, actress/director, and theater worker extraordinare)
Despite his distrust for all things "religious", and disassociation from his Jewish heritage, Bob was my rebbe.
One of his favorite quotes was:
"In the deepest part of our soul,
in the deepest parts of our humanity,
we have the need to create.
to transform the visciousness and mediocrity of the world
into sunlight and peace.
Welcome to the place
where you can dare to be in your dreams,
dare to be strong,
dare to be vulnerable.
All power to the imagination
Love and good courage"
It is astonishingly clear to me that these words speak of our soul's longing, pushing and struggling to recognize itself, often in opposition against the realities of the world into which it was born. We were born into this world to create. We are, in Jewish thought, co-creators with the Divine.
Creativity, the most powerful way to act in a Godly manner, is our birthright. And it is, like Pablo Casals wrote, "not something to turn on and off like tapwater", but rather the way to live life. In the moment of creation we are "like G!d", all pretense and ego is stripped away, and we are channels for something far greater than ourselves. Truth is revealed, and if we are so blessed, light shines on and through us. Like Moses descending Sinai, we are radiant, and truly free.
In its most radical understanding, this means that humankind need not wait for a single messiah to herald the coming of a world perfected. That messenger is here, right now, and is born every minute of every day. If only we could listen, and truly hear his/her message.
From "It's In Everyone of Us", by David Pomerance, one of Bob's favorite songs:
"It's in everyone of us
To be wise
Find your heart
Open up both your eyes
We can all know everything without ever knowing why
It's in everyone of us, by and by."
Mark Novak is a "free-range" rabbi who lives in Washington DC and works, well, just about everywhere. In 2012 he founded Minyan Oneg Shabbat, home to MOSH (Minyan Oneg Shabbat), MindfulMOSH (Jewish mindfulness gathering), and