Sunday, September 18, 2005

Playing God 3

So it was, that the inimitable Rich Swingle introduced the concept of enacted prayer to the entire student body and faculty at the School for Music and Gospel Arts. For the first demonstration of enacted prayer, Rich would 'play God'. I had an intuitive sense that what would follow would be similar to psychodrama or sociodrama, something I was familiar with in my work. I was intensely interested.

Rich called for a prayer request. I felt an immediate inner response. I had just received news from home that my grandson Robbie, then seven months old, had once again been to the doctor's with an asthma attack and that his parents were taking him to hospital. I wanted prayer. I wanted it with urgency. I tried to hold myself back, feeling that this special prayer must surely be for one of the students. But when no one immediately leapt to his/her feet, I was catapulted out of my seat. I sprang into the pool of blessing.

Rich elicited information from me about my prayer request. I told about Robbie's fragile start to life and his asthma. Rich called for one of the faculty children to come up and play Robbie. A young girl came and was positioned in a lying pose at the front of the stage. Drama students volunteered to be Robbie's parents. Another faculty child came forward to play Robbie's four year old sister. It became clear that each person in this little family had special need for prayer. Then Rich called for someone to play illness. Rich asked 'illness' to put his foot gently on 'Robbie's' chest. And finally, someone was asked to play me. This was something I hadn't anticipated. My niece Kathryn came forward, eyes shining and full of compassion. I knew, of all the people in the room, no one could understand my heart more keenly than Kathryn and no one would play me better. It was a special moment for both of us as our eyes met across the width of the stage.

Rich prayed briefly that God would be in the enacted prayer. I sat to one side of the stage, my back against a pillar. The enacted prayer began. Everyone slowly moved into their roles. It was evident from their postures that Robbie's parents were sad and felt helpless. Robbie looked so frail. His little sister looked lost in the midst of something which was huge and overwhelming. Kathryn, playing me, went around trying to hold up everyone. She lifted Robbie's head, without success. She tried to raise the arms of Robbie's parents. Their arms fell back helplessly at their sides.

Tears began to roll down my cheeks unbidden. I wasn't sobbing. I made no sound. Tears just fell as I recognized the ways in which I try to hold up everyone in my family, not just those represented on the stage. Others too. The whole multigenerational mass. My own helplessness to effect change was apparent. As my tears fell, I let go of my need to control any outcome. This was beyond me.

God moved into the scene. Kathryn, playing me, took Robbie's sister out of the family group to one side and entertained her, while God worked with Robbie and his parents. First, he banished 'illness.' He removed the heavy foot from off Robbie's chest and cast illness away. He assessed the helplessness of Robbie's parents. He blessed them. He loved them. He nurtured them. He lifted their eyes and their arms toward heaven. When they themselves were strong, they were able to attend to Robbie. They stooped down to where Robbie lay, to sit by him, cradle him and love him. I felt the tension of the situation release. I felt calmness and peace. Kathryn, playing me, restored Robbie's sister to the family group. They stood closely, mutually supported, as a unit, undivided by illness, serene and whole.

The picture of my little family as portrayed on stage by this group of relative strangers was intensely touching. Powerful. I could hear people sniffing back tears from all over the large auditorium. Otherwise, there was not a single sound. The word Amen was spoken. And Rich sealed what had happened with a brief spoken prayer.

Now I don't know about you, but for me, when I have been deeply affected by God's Spirit, my mind gets very large. I see potential. I feel enlightenment. My mind is large enough to possess possibilities, but it is also numbed in some way. Regular talking, walking and even thinking are difficult. I stumbled back to my seat. I think some people hugged me. The service swirled on around me. I have no idea what else went on. I was in a different place.

And a different place was where I remained for the rest of the week. As a matter of fact, I am still resting in that special spot. Sacred space. Mercifully, mobility, speech and thinking capacity returned to me.
1.) I functioned at a high level troughout the week, and was able to be present to many different people in many different ways.
2.) I was absolutely released from responsibilty for things at home. When I placed a check in phone call to each of my daughters, they were unavailable to talk. I got my sons-in-law instead. I took it as an indication that things were well in control without me. I didn't have to hold everyone up.
3.) God's Spirit rested on me in a unique way. I felt nudged by the Spirit. Say yes. Say no. Do this. Do that. Don't do that. Try this. Say that. Don't say that. This immediate, constant, unhesitating sense of the presence of God in a minute by minute way was quite new to me.
4.) After a lifetime of wrestling with God, like Jacob at Peniel, I carried in my body a wound, but I felt continually touched by blessing. This was the prayer I had carried in my heart for years. I had sung it, pleaded and bargained for it. Demanded it. "I will not let You go until you bless me." A lifetime of this prayer. And now, in this strange way, when I asked for prayer for someone else, this blessing came. This was intimacy with God, not totally unfamiliar, but fresh and new.

So that was the first and perhaps the most profound answer to the enacted prayer. But there's more to follow.


daisymarie said...

isn't that just like God to lavishly heap more upon an already engorged heart...this touched me immeasurably.

annie said...

Connie, Wow. I can imagine how powerful this must have been in person, I am moved just reading about it on the screen. God is good. I'm looking forward to hearing more.

anj said...

Moving - that too is the word that comes to my mind. Moving in so many ways. I, too, am looking forward to hearing more.

steph said...

Wow Connie - I am just exhaling realizing this caused me to hold my breath! The visual, the awe, the wonder of this "drama" is something I have never heard of before. The clarity and revealing that came and with that a new kind of shalom upon you, the one who asked for prayer to another. That brings up a whole new area - when we ask for prayer for others what is the Spirit bringing to Abba for us, the requester?

georgia said...

I love this idea....enacted prayer. And, I saw you there too, helping, holding others up....He let you see you from the sidelines....and now He has freed you.....He will hold them up. Let go, let God. We all want to hear more.

Hope said...

Wow. What a powerful post. What a powerful experience. I haven't heard of this before but I imagine if we did this with all prayer requests it would be powerful for all. Thank you.

wilsonian said...

Praise God for such a powerful, healing time...