Lessons I Learned from the Stage
I’ve learned a great deal about faith on stage. I love the stage…the sound of hard-soled shoes on wood planks where so many worlds have been played out, so many layers of paint applied over the years. I love the moment when the set is illuminated by lights.
A Lesson on Light
One day at the end of a rehearsal, the director, R.B. Hill, gathered his cast to go over his many pages of critique. In a gruff voice which has rattled many an actor, he spoke.
“B.J., stay in the light!” R.B. told me.
You see, during one scene of the play I’d wandered outside the realm of the spotlight meant to illuminate me as I walked among the graves. R.B.'s instruction made good sense. The audience wants to see the action and, at that moment, the action was me, a little old lady wandering among her memories. Over the years I’ve taken that simple note to heart. It’s easy to walk outside the light, to forget who we are and whose we are, to fall short of God’s best for us, outside the light in shadows. Not only can we so easily lose our way, but those who long to follow in our footsteps may begin to falter. So I take that lesson to heart, remembering that Jesus told us to walk in the light as well.
A Lesson on the Heart
One night as I began my performance of Susanna Wesley at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson, I could hear a soft, rhythmic tapping beneath my every word. Suddenly I realized it was the beating of my heart being picked up by the small, wireless microphone concealed beneath my costume. Lesson number two: our lives as Christians speak volumes, more than our words is our witness…that which is at the heart of our lives day by day. We should live lives worthy of imitation.
A Lesson on Breathing
When I went out onto the stage once more, I remembered another profound truth from R.B.: “Breathe, B.J., breathe.”
“Ah ha,” I thought, as I realized I had not been breathing deeply, “that’s a good concept.”
Breathing is essential for life. The Holy Spirit of God, closer even than our own breath, waits to fill and use us, equip and empower us, if only we empty the useless and harmful of our lives and let the Spirit in. Jesus told us in Acts 1:8 that " [we] will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon [us].”
- Belinda Jo "B.J." Mathias
Pictured above: B.J. Mathias dressed as Susanna Wesley with Rev. Chris Young (top) and Rev. Rick Brooks (below). B.J. has portrayed Susanna Wesley in performances across the U.S. since the early 1990s.