A place for believers, non-believers, seekers, and poo poo-ers to explore what is meaningful.
When I made the decision to attend seminary to become an Inter-Spiritual Minister in 2005, I shared my resolve with one of my closest friends, upon which she asked me a very interesting question: “When you become a minister, are you going to lose your truck driver mouth?” A legitimate inquiry. After a pause, I responded, “Holy Shit, no.” Actually, I think I said, “Fuck, no.” but we’re going with an S-word for the sake of this project.
Since being ordained, I’ve had many an opportunity to share that story and in quite an array of circumstances, my most favorite instance being whilst I officiated a wedding for 2 men friends of mine. (See the post entitled, ‘Üh-oh. The S – word’, here on Sacred Shmay-cred) Honestly, I don’t think it’s a big deal, this propensity for cussing, but in the world of “spirituality”, preciousness can abound, and people have all kinds of opinions on swearing.
It’s not just a good glottal cuss word that draws opinions though. People have opinions on all sorts of words, and particularly ones that pertain to spirituality. As we know, different words mean different things to different people.
As I was accepted into seminary, I had no idea what “being a minister” really meant. I knew I wanted to immerse myself more deeply in my spiritual understanding. Whether it was for personal enrichment or to step out of the proverbial spiritual closet as more of a leader, I couldn’t have articulated. Of course, it was both. While in seminary, I was reconnected to the reason I became an actor…the “Know Thyself” dictum that is at the heart of acting is also at the heart of the spiritual quest
It’s very easy for me to connect the dots between my spiritual journey and my creative life. Quite frankly, I don’t make a lot of distinction between any aspect of my life… spiritual, creative, profound, profane, and yes, mundane. Even so, I realize the word, “spiritual” is a loaded one for many, even artists who feel they “channel” their work.
I also connected to the ancient roots of theater, where the actor’s told the mythological stories of life and where it was perceived that they were shamans, channeling the gods and goddesses. It was during my time in seminary when the idea of Sacred Stages was visioned. I am not affiliated with any religious tradition, or specific belief system either. My personality and temperament are drawn to certain elements and understandings, but I do not “identify” as anything other than “human being having a direct experience”. Theatre, music, art, nature, relationships, my life: all my “church”. Where would I go for an expansive experience with my community? The answer was clear. I’d go to my alter, the stage.
I envisioned theater pieces combining ritual, cabaret, (“Cabaritual”) and performance art as the basis for a company and wanted to call it Sacred Stages. I like the alliteration, I like that the word “stages” inferred both an external venue and an internal experience, and…well, I love the word “Sacred”.
Back to those words that mean different things to different people…words on which people have all sorts of opinions.
The ultimate S–word. I contemplated the wisdom of using the name “Sacred Stages”. It may be a turn off for the very people I wanted in my audience as part of the growing community of seekers who are unaffiliated with any church or dogma or are finding their traditions to be unfulfilling.
Ultimately, I decided that because I consider all of life as Sacred, I’d keep the name, and Sacred Stages, LLC was birthed. I’ve since created my first one-woman show, The Edge of Everyday, to introduce my concept for Sacred Stages. (See http://www.sacredstages.org for performance schedule) I am continually addressing what the word “sacred” means to me and to others. The “S-word Sessions” is a project to do just that, a series of musings with sojourners on a word of tumult, transformation and revelation, and how these understandings of this word might inform us all.
In my first interview, I was lucky enough to speak with songwriter and musician, David Cantor.
By way of Dave’s website: “From the early ’90s through to the middle-aughts, David Cantor was the songwriter and guitarist for the independent pop-group Dave’s True Story. In their years together, Dave’s True Story toured extensively along the East and West Coasts and released four critically-acclaimed albums of original music.
Their songs have been featured in such films as Kissing Jessica Stein, A Dog’s Life: a Dogamentary, and Trust the Man. Their latest television placement has been in a very recent episode of the acclaimed AMC series, Breaking Bad.”
I came across the mercurial music of the uber-talented Dave Cantor while listening to a demo album of a new friend. Having been mezmorized, I immediately aurally devoured everything written by Dave that I could. One of my favorite songs in my show, The Edge of Everyday, is by Dave Cantor, entitled “Crazy Eyes”.
He cleverly uses eye color as a metaphor in describing the extremes within a relationship. The whimsical, paradisiacal lyrics of “Crazy Eyes”, combined with jazzy-pop music that shifts moods on a dime, makes for a perfect match for the theme of The Edge of Everyday. I am a relatively new fan to Dave’s music, but am an ardent one, and I continue my immersion into his music. And I look forward to singing many more of his tunes (if he’ll let me). http://www.davidcantormusic.com/
Watch the video of “Crazy Eyes” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKw2QwN0CAk
Dave very kindly agreed to be my fist interview for “The S-Word Sessions” and in a meeting over a diner breakfast in the Bronx, we waxed cosmically on the word “Sacred”.
“S-Word Session” #1
OK, here we go…
Sandra: You were more cosmic when you were young?
David: Yes, I think that I, you know, had more of a larger consciousness…I wanted a larger consciousness growing up and as a teenager…and I think that I’ve been whittled down a little bit and I don’t really engage in the thinking part at this time…I just kind of…but I do hear it, or see it in the arts. I’ve always appreciated religious art for the art’s sake.
It comes from a genuine place.
Last year I was listening to a lot of Mary Lou Williams, who was a great jazz pianist and composer, and very religious. Black Christ in The Andes, I listened to it constantly. So I guess…I guess my “sacred jones” if you will, is from Coltraine and her.
Sandra: Love it. “Sacred jones.” Might need to be the name of this project.
David: You’re welcome to it. Even then, I don’t know…if what I feel is “spiritual” or just an appreciation of the arts. I think I may have a few cracks left in me.
Sandra: A few cracks that remain open…
Sandra: So the word, even hearing the word “Sacred”. What kind of reaction does it illicit?
D: It suggests a heaviness that I don’t necessarily want to think about.
S: wow. Oh, I get that.
D: So I mean…but I also know that mystery is a part of it, part of the cycle. That, as I said, even though I’ve kinda shrunk. I remember being more open and I think I appreciate why people wouldn’t want to be more open. It’s come back to me recently.
Sandra: Gotcha…the whole relationship of art and beauty being the thing that can open that, for all of us.
David: Yah, it does.
Sandra: When I was creating the mission for Sacred Stages, I had some friends over to my place and we really talked about what…how do you want to describe this? How do you want to describe this new company? We really, I mean, just in the privacy of living room with 2 people that I would consider very much on the same page as me…I discovered that it’s not the case. Words, once again, mean different things to different people. And this particular word that I may celebrate is a real turn-off to the 2 of them. And the fact that “sacred” was one of them…it insinuated a “heaviness” for them too. I can really relate to that. I can feel that.
Sandra: It has the weight of history.
David: And, also, you know how the sacred is used as justification for all sorts of mal-sacred activity is a whole other angle.
Sandra: So true. We continue to see it today.
And so we begin. Thank you, Dave, for your honesty. And to the rest of you…What is sacred to you? What does the word “sacred” mean to you?