I’m walking a little closer with the phenomenal arts community we have here in Minneapolis since last Thursday night’s wonderfully successful Loft/MIA event, The Hero’s Journey. Thanks to the hard work and planning of Chris Jones at the Loft and Katie Hill at the MIA (and many, many others), over 100 people came out on an evening fraught with tornado warnings and thunderstorms to…now that’s the question, isn’t it? What did people come to do?
Can we first marvel at who came? Men, women, young, old. Singly, in pairs, in groups of three to four. Literally, in an age range from eighteen too eighty. How amazing is that? And here’s what really gets to me: their earnestness. Their desire not just to show up, not just to take in the amazing artwork in the MIA’s exhibit on the Sacred, but to fully participate in the evening’s activities. “Would you like some guidance for the writing exercise in the Journey Room?” I asked a steady stream of participants from 5:30-7:30pm. “Oh, yes!” they said. And then they listened, really listened to me. They wanted to learn. They wanted to do.
So: back to the first question. What did they do? Four things, in my estimation:
1. Experience art.
2. Be inspired by art to words.
3. Use words to imagine a hero or heroine in an archetypal story.
4. Share, gather, listen to, speak those words.
The biggest surprise of the night for me was that, for some reason, I imagined prose in the final open-mic session. But what we got was–oh, my–beautiful, beautiful poetry. Our vibrant emcees from Button Poetry, Sam Cook and Sierra Demulder, were up first, and nearly brought the crowd to their knees with poems about God and gods, search and journey, self and other, fear and courage. They admitted their presentations were hardly first drafts–whereas the next-up performers were committed to using the experiences of the evening to compose on-the-spot. But you would NOT believe the quality of these subsequent reader/performer’s so-called “first drafts”–speaker after speaker came up (so brave!) and just wowed the crowd. Again, men, women, young, old. Anybody who knows me knows I’m a softie, but I was moved to tears, several times.
You know what’s sacred here? Besides the words, the art, the poetry? This community. This community of every day people who gathered to play with art and words, and maybe not only to play. To learn, to share, to dig past traffic and weather and grocery shopping and paying bills to something bigger. Something beautiful, to see and hear. Something to dream about, something to imagine. Something to comfort, heart and mind and soul.