What started as a silly exclamation after drinking at the pub one night turned into two major projects that I undertook at seminary.
The exclamation – interjected as a group of us at Union Theological Seminary discovered a mutual love of musical theater – was “we should do a Broadway Revue!” A few months later, we were making that silly notion a reality, and we created and produced “In the Beginning: A Broadway Revue Inspired by Genesis.” A year later, we created and produced “The Other Side” which was inspired by Exodus – complete with a three-credit course led by one of the world’s top Biblical scholars.
It was really a silly idea. We had heavy work loads, field education, other interests. Yet it sparked a creativity that would not be relegated to ‘silly idea.’
Fast forward to now: a colleague’s son is in the hospital with a sudden illness; to cheer her up, another colleague suggested we post funny/made up memories of her on Facebook. The entries were funny, sweet, and sometimes fantastical. But one of them – suggesting that they were doing a service that was replaced by a Golden Girls script – was the silliest of them all. And sparked an incredible conversation that is now leading us to create a “Thank You For Being a Friend” Sunday – coordinated worship services across the country, focused on the wonderful lessons of friendship, generosity, acceptance, worth, family, storytelling, cheesecake, and shoulder pads.
A silly idea. A REALLY silly idea. But now we’re plotting and planning and, as I experienced in the Broadway revues, feeding and being fed off others’ creativity, spirit, and yes-and attitude.
Just yesterday, I was remarking to my internship supervisor that I felt a bit exiled – not just the geographic exile of being at the end of an archipelago where the Atlantic meets the Gulf of Mexico, but also exiled from my support systems, from connections, and most of all, from my own – and others’ – creativity. Somehow being physically separated from the people who stir my creativity led me to being separated from my own.
But a silly idea has brought me back from the brink.
A silly, creative, meaningful idea that can be accomplished and activates all that I love about the creative process – collaboration, expansive thinking, inspiration – has brought me back from the brink.
Saying YES-AND to this silly idea has reminded me to say YES-AND to myself, to that which I call God, to the universe, to others, and most of all, to my call.
But it’s not just personal; as career coach Bob Proctor points out, it’s the silly ideas that are “the most stunning, spectacular concept you could possibly imagine. Something there’s an enormous market for. Something that millions of people are absolutely crying for someone to provide them with.”
Imagine what happens when we use the power of silly in our spiritual settings… we might get a raised eyebrow or two, and hear the seven deadly words “but we’ve never done it this way.” But we may often have found the most spectacular concept we could possibly imagine, something millions are absolutely crying for someone to provide them with – healing, comfort, joy, awakening, enlightenment. It happened for me, and it keeps happening.
Bring on the silly.