I learned a fair amount about stormwater pollution in my last job. The more obvious pollution is well obvious – oil spills and the like. What is less obvious is how sediment/soil runoff is also a pollutant. When fine sediment enters a stream it fills the interstitial spaces between the rocks and stones of the streambed. So what? Well, this is harmful because these spaces are where salmon lay their eggs. And if there are no spaces, there are no eggs, there is no continuation of salmon life in that place.
What are the interstitial spaces in our lives, bodies, days, hearts?
How do we often fill up all small spaces with a text here, a web search there, or social media post in any remaining space?
In the christian church, of which I am part, we are about to embark on the season of Advent. It’s a time of waiting, anticipation, creating space for God within us and our lives. Ironically, this is the busiest time of the year in our society. And we are often fearful of open spaces and unoccupied time.
As you may know by now the Core idea of Improv is saying Yes, And. As improvisers know this doesn’t mean you are a doormat, or that you are taken advantage of. It’s a Yes to yourself, and an acceptance of the world you are in, and a YES to the unfolding of what could be.
One of the most central Yesses of the christian scriptures is the Yes of Mary. James Martin S.J. (the former official Jesuit of the Colbert Report) explores this Yes.
In the Gospel of Luke, Mary says yes to angel Gabriel, who asks her to bear God’s son. And she does so in perfect freedom. As do we—in our own lives. God meets us in myriad ways, through nature, through prayer, especially through people “For Christ plays in the ten thousand places, lovely in eyes and limbs not his,” as the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote. ….But the decision is always up to us. We are free to say yes or no to God.
With her yes, Mary partners herself with the Almighty and is empowered to bring Christ into the world….In describing the arc of the conversation between Gabriel and Mary, the Gospel of Luke perfectly describes the arc of the spiritual life: God initiates the conversation; we are initially hesitant and fearful; we seek to understand God’s word in our life; God reminds us of our experience, and, free to choose, if we say yes to God, we are able to bring new life into the world. (Source: Loyola Press.)
If we keep all spaces occupied we can become rigid and keep creating the same world over and over. If we open up space for new possibilities to be born in us, a new world will unfold within us and around us.
Guru of improv, Keith Johnstone, puts in this way:
“There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes,’ and there are people who prefer to say ‘No’. Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say ‘No’, are rewarded by the safety they attain.”1Improvisation begins when a community of people resolve to find ways of “saying ‘Yes’. (“Impro”, pg 103)
May you and I, and our communities, have the courage to open up space within us, within our time, our worlds, our homes, to allow something new to emerge.
[This is my first of four Advent/Improv reflections in December.]