by Ethan Norman
I was a little hesitant, when we wrote the card. It occurred to me that words, in a time like this, are terribly insufficient. Is this even a good idea? Will this help or hurt? Maybe they just need space. Maybe God has given me something to say in a moment where silence and presence are gold and silver; maybe I’m overestimating something that works for lesser times. We went ahead with it, trusting that it was the right thing. This morning, my neighbor wrapped his arms around me in the middle of a busy street, to tell me how much the card meant to him. He lost his fourteen-year-old son two days ago.
There is an art to comfort. The things that inspire peace in the midst of a storm are not usually the things we would have predicted. It could be a man, whom we have utmost respect for, but no true comprehension of, standing up in the front of our boat and telling hurricane Irma to be still. It could be clowns handing out white flowers at what was supposed to be a “white power” rally, diffusing the situation with what would otherwise be a joke. Jesus showed his authority over creation. The clowns showed the power of love over hate as they paraded around proclaiming a white flower party. I’m honestly not sure why I am surprised, time and time again, that something we did with our “artistic” skills, actually brought healing in our world.
There are a lot of resources I wish I had at my disposal. Oh, the numbers that could be fed with lottery winnings. Oh, the mercy I could offer, giving people a ride, if only my car would start. The list could certainly go on. But I am becoming convinced that Art performed with compassion, empathy, and prayer is the second most powerful force in the world. The first, of course, is love.
The “art” we practiced in writing the card to our neighbor opened the door for love. Our relationship is new and different now. We no longer wave from the other side of the traffic, we hug in the middle of it. We won’t just shout “how are you?”, as if it were a question not to be answered, we will gather around a table and share a meal. All because we took what we learned with The WordPlayers, practicing Theatre Arts, and used it to write on a little 3×5 piece of paper, folded in half, and stuck in the screen door across the street.