Have you ever gone on a God Hunt? A God Hunt begins when you teach yourself to look for God’s hand at work in the every day occurrences of your life. Here’s one of my personal God Hunt Sightings:
“They should have paid us to sit in these seats,” I joked to the women who were adjusting their chairs in the box next to ours during the first intermission of a Saturday afternoon performance of the Joffrey Ballet.
A friend of a friend had discount tickets she couldn’t use, so David and I found ourselves at the beautifully restored Sullivan and Adler Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Box seats, I thought as the ushers steered us to the second-floor balcony, pretty good. I was soon to learn that there are box seats, and then there are box seats.
The people in the first row of seats in our box had an unobstructed view. David’s and my seats, however, in the second row of the first balcony box, offered us almost completely obstructed sightlines. The boxes were designed front and forward so if we sat straight in our seats, we looked across the concert hall to the second floor balcony seats across us, not toward the stage.
So? you might be thinking. Just twist your bodies or reposition your chairs. Not so easy. The boxes were crowded, giving us limited room for negotiating space, and even if we twisted toward the stage, my whole right sightline was blocked by all the people sitting in the four other boxes closer to the stage than ours.
The purpose, of course, of going to the ballet is to see the dancers. Mr. Louis Sullivan, I thought, Mr. Dankmar Adler, you goofed.
The Auditorium Building in Chicago is one of the best-known designs of these two architects. Completed in 1889, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and designated a Chicago Landmark in 1976. At the time of its construction, it was the largest and tallest building in the United States. Ferdinand Peck, a Chicago businessman, wanted to develop a cultural center that would rival the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. He wanted to make high culture accessible to the working classes.
The building was equipped with the first central air conditioning system and was the first to be entirely lit by incandescent light bulbs. In 2001, a major restoration of the Auditorium Theatre was begun to return the theater to its original colors and finishes. It now is the home of Roosevelt University.
However, even in the best of plans, there is often a glitch. The glitch in the Adler/Sullivan architecture is that anyone in the second tier of chairs in the first balcony box seats, number six, right-hand side, is unlikely to be able to see the stage due to the heads of all the people in the other boxes positioned to the right of said person in said box seat. This is particularly so when the baldheaded gentleman in the first row of box seven rests his head on his right hand.
All during the first half of the opening performance of modern interpretations of classical dance, “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated,” I fumed. I do have a pet peeve when seats perched behind posts at sporting events are sold to unsuspecting fans (or when discounted tickets are not marked with the disclaimer: “Welcome to the Joffrey. You will be unlikely to see the stage from these seats.”) But somewhere midway in that rendition, I became captured by the sheer beauty of the choreographed muscularity, the exquisite physicality of the dancers and gave myself one of those all-too-frequent and necessary lectures, Oh, Mains. Grow up! You peevish, privileged middle-class woman! You are at the Joffrey Ballet! Stop pouting and just stand up. You can sit during the intermission.
This, of course, made quite a difference. If I stood, I could see. I had an unobstructed sightline of the stage. And I quite enjoyed the rest of “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” (how ironically appropriate that title to my circumstances). We had a charming chat during the interlude before the next piece “After the Rain,” and then another intermission.
I read my program and realized that we were attending the U.S. premiere of what the notes told me was a piece of “sumptuous beauty and shimmering possibility” (who writes stage notes for ballets and concerts and plays? How much do they earn for doing this writing? Is it the artistic director, Ashley C. Wheater or Scott Speck, the Music Director?) Or maybe—just maybe, it is the choreographer him/herself who writes glowing stage-reviews… “Dancers perform intense and thoughtful choreography, exposing the agonies of indecision, doubt and hope that lie under the surface of the skin.” Oh, I see this quoted bit is attributed to the critic of The Telegraph (and where exactly is that published?).
Somewhere, while standing again for the last ballet in order to be able to see, this thought intruded. Life is full of glitches. Sometimes the most beautiful experiences are threatened by the fact that you are situated in such a way that you can only view a third of what is going on, can only see half the dancers on the stage. The exquisite beauty of this event, whatever it is—sunset streaking the sky as you ignore it while hurrying onto an evening appointment; a grandchild happily and ecstatically destroying your ordered basement with the detritus of concentrated play—can be lost because you are sitting in your seat, hurrying to dinner, craning your neck, so to speak, and allowing yourself to be filled with peeve at the Architects of this high cultural event for the common masses.
Or—or you can choose to stand through the whole performance, leaning against your chair that you have moved in front of you to act as a prop. And if you choose to stand at life’s ballets—no matter the seeming inconveniences—I promise you will see the whole thing. You will be able to puzzle about the “transforming direction of the dance” constructed by the Three Choreographers (in theological terms this is called perichoresis koinonia). Joy will rise in you. I am here, you will think. We are at the Joffrey Ballet. You may be in the middle, somewhat elevated, but that will be quite enough.
Savor each moment, large or small, give praise for the beauty of the work. Lift your heart to the Master Artistic Director. Give thanks. Let us just be glad that a friend of a friend has given us tickets to the show.
I spy God!
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.