Bibliodrama on day 4 of Elijah Interfaith Summer School
Wednesday 5th August 2020 — Hosted in Jerusalem, participants zoomed-in from around the world
‘Bibliodrama’ never heard of it and was curious to know more. I was to learn that it is taking a passage of scripture and becoming a character in it. It is done in a group and in our case, we as a group became the voice. The first voice chosen by the facilitator was that of David. They took the Psalm below to give us context.
“To the conductor, a song of David.
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long will I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart by day; how long will my enemy have the upper hand over me?
Look and answer me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death. Lest my enemy say, “I have overwhelmed him”; my adversaries will rejoice when I totter.
But I trusted in Your loving-kindness, my heart will rejoice in Your salvation; I will sing to the Lord for He has bestowed [it] upon me.”
We were asked us to think of a time when we felt as David abandoned by God.
We remained mute as a group (an easy thing to do when you are on a screen and we have the power to mute and unmute thyself). It was ‘the exercise’ to get people ready.
The strange thing is I have felt God with me in this last while. I was struggling to remember a time when I felt abandoned. I could easily think of difficult times I experience them frequently but difficult as they are I have felt in them God with me.
Sensing that we were struggling the question was reframed, “Think of the hardest time recently.”
I had embarked on a series of actions which I believed were correct yet opposition came. I felt the scales tilting and wasn’t sure where they would land me. I continued to do what I have been taught through previous difficulties, remain in the moment, that is all that God requires (well there is more but for those of us who live in the moment there is only one thing). In that, there is a sense that in the moment I allow myself to be held by God. I try not to struggle as it causes difficulties for both of us. I once remember trying to help a cat but it struggled against me and I ended up with many scratches. The cat did not make it easy for me or it.
A time when I felt like David in the passage was when I experienced a prolonged period of depression. It was around my 30th birthday. I guess I was at a point when I stopped striving. I had a degree, entered a profession, married, had a mortgage and began the process of becoming a father with the birth of the only begotten. There was a sense, “Ok I have gotten to where society says you need to get to so is this it for the next 35 years?” I was to learn becoming a father would be the rest of my life work.
It was a steep learning curve suddenly this baby is home with you and it is like, “What happens now?” I was forced by the baby to stop thinking about myself and meet its needs. I had a baby depending on me. Thank God for her mother. I am glad it was planned that way that it would take two of us to raise our baby.
To become a father (and yes I know I am making it sound like an ordination, I think it is) meant I would revisit my childhood through this child. That meant not only was I meeting the baby’s needs but healing my lacks on the way. That led to an unexpected therapy whereby as I was being the father as I best as I knew how I was also being fathered. This was an intense period of time when I looked to God, my father to show me what to do. It was in this time I began to learn to live in the moment. But in dealing with my unresolved emotions and allowing emotions that had never fully bloomed to grow I found myself at times depressed. Now I know the depression was part of what I had to experience to let what would never be ‘go’.
I guess I was also becoming a husband. Twenty four years on I am still becoming a father but I am no longer a husband.
It was during this time that I felt very alone and an absence of God. I was to learn (I am doing a whole lot of learning here) that God was never absent but I was not always present.
Returning to the present I am reminded that I am in a situation where my expectations and that of others are not the same. When that happens conflict occurs. The learning of the past integrated with wisdom acquired along the way is what I need to bring to bear. If I feel an absence of God it is a reminder that I stepped too far into the future or back into the past.
We also looked at Genesis 15 verses 1 to 8 in which God promises to give Abram a son. They are childless and Sarah is getting old. We are Abram, what are we saying and what are we saying in our own particular situation?
This elicited a response from me which I wrote, “Strange thing is although I have had my doubts I have always followed the path.”
I then went on to write about fatherhood as mentioned previously,
“My doubt of being a father yet as I took it day by day and looked to God he got me there. My daughter is now 20. I still have more to do I still have moments yet I work through them with God and we get there.”
I went on to write, “It can be like that with life. Sometimes it can feel fearful yet as I listen to God, lean on God I get there. I am 50 now.”
Bibliodrama draws on our imaginations, emotions and creative potential. It could be easy for me to sit in the intellect but we need as people and people of faith to allow the stories to touch our every part.