Pull Me a Little Closer
Since the entire production Sat in a Boat is a glimpse into a journey of faith, I felt it appropriate and meaningful to begin the piece with soft worship. This journey begins with a sense of one seeking answers, but more accurately, seeking the heart of God. The song chosen here is Closer by Bethel Music. I think there is something authentic, genuine and vulnerable when only a singing voice is heard in a silent room with no assistance from instruments or other entities. Think of when you’re praying alone in a room. This is a short and intimate scene where you witness a person “seeking” in private and asking God to pull her closer. “You have said, ‘seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, I will seek’” (Psalm 27:8). A fitting response to God’s loving pursuit is expressing sincerely that you want to know His heart and are ready to listen, learn and live accordingly. Naturally then, to know the heart of God, we turn to the beginning–creation and the fall. The piece proceeds to uncover this narrative creatively through a spoken word piece.
Cuz’ when I look up in the sky, I see a brilliant blue.
That is one of my favorite lines in this incredible spoken word piece by CM2Live. When you look up at the sky, what do you think of? Awe is the word that comes to my mind. The definition of “awe” is defined as the emotion of reverential respect mixed with fear and wonder. Quite frankly, I think of God and by implication, His existence. The book of Romans tells us that humanity is without excuse because God made His existence plain to them. His invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–are shown through creation. We all know the famous verse that reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). But have you ever read or pondered over several other poetic and captivating verses that further strengthen this undeniable truth with descriptive details? It is okay if you are still wrestling. But consider, scripture tells us that “by faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command,” (Hebrews 11:3) and in fact, to this day, “He holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:17).
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4). Scripture says “by the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6) - that’s right, the stars! “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40: 26). “Before the mountains were born or He brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting He is God” (Psalm 90:2). Envision this–He set the heavens in place, marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep His command, and marked out the foundations of the earth. (Proverbs 8:27-29). Hear it from God Himself, “For this is what the Lord says–He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it…’I am the Lord, and there is no other.’” (Isaiah 45:18).
But the crowning jewel of His creation came after nature, humankind. “He did not create [the earth] to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18). Only human beings were created in the image of God and charged to cultivate the earth. When your heart beats fast from working out, when you examine your veins or muscles, what do you think of? Surely, the brilliance and complexity of your body and soul is no accident. For God created you in your inmost being, knit you together in your mother’s womb. Your frame was not hidden from God when you were made in the secret place, when you were woven togeher in the depths of the earth by God. Does this move your heart? Do you yearn for the truth? Do you yearn for the living God?
So what went wrong? Why do we feel heavy, fear, doubt, concern and alone? We rebelled against God. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and no matter how much “good” we think we’ve done, none can measure up to the moral perfection of God. The Bible says even our good deeds are like filthy rags in comparison. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear or love of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18). Bad news is we are doomed for death and desruction in a downward spiraling world. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to the best of our ability to make the world a better place and bless our fellow neighbors now, but know for certain the end is coming. Everyone must face death and face the consequences of their own sin.
We hope this beautiful and honest piece of spoken word compellingly draws you in to contemplate the account of creation and the fall, and relate to the human experience of confusion, frustration and anger regarding our current condition. Have you asked these questions, maybe not verbatim but in your heart?
Can you save me?
Will you save me?
Are you there?
Where are you?
So have I.
Where Are You
This animation piece by artist Aly Raden invites you into a calmer atmosphere, and almost like a storybook, the piece shows a simple white line tracing stories, shapes and symbols from the narrative of Mark 4, which is the main text where Sat in a Boat draws inspiration. This piece depicts something familiar, but foreign. Something close, yet far away. I think of the scripture that says God “planted eternity into the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The animation seems complete and familiar, yet still has a mystery to it–something we lost and are looking to recover.
Choreography in this section is inspired by the parable of the sower expressed through a solo by dancer Elijah Richardson, the space forming an abstract scene of “a large crowd” made up of both audiences and observing dancers. The music by Donavahn Frierson leads heavily with piano depicting wonder and mystery, even a tone of striking clarity and decisiveness. A duet between dancers Marceia L. Scruggs and Elijah Richardson takes place simultaneously alongside a trio (dancers Rebecca D. Huang, Sarah Baker and Sarah Freeman). Dancers are lost in the wonder of the parable, reflecting and moving through their own responses and contemplation of what was uttered from the mouth of Christ.