Jamie B., Act Five ’20, writes the following:
“A fish can’t see the water that it’s swimming in.”
In any given moment we often cannot fully understand the importance of what we are learning and living until we step back and gain some perspective.
Recently, that saying has surfaced quite a number of times as I reflect on my time in the Act Five program. It is hard to believe how much time has passed since living in the beautiful and bustling house on Blake Street. I am no longer a fish swimming in the water of the program, rather, I have the great privilege of looking back on my time there with the clarity that a little distance affords.
Act Five is a one year immersive discipleship program. Many of the lessons students learn there are not new ones. The program focuses on that which is deeply rooted in our humanity. The kind of things that, although essential, we tend to shy away from when they get difficult. Yes, you will experience new things, you will meet new people, and you will eat new food and see new places. But at the core, Act Five is about community, healthy routine, service, sacrifice, growth, and storytelling.
Storytelling is something I have especially taken to heart since leaving the Act Five program and truly want to dedicate my time with going forward. I began to realize the importance of storytelling during the second semester when every Wednesday night we would have a guest come into our house and after sharing a meal with us (oh how remembering these nights makes my heart ache for pre-covid times), would make their way to the basement and – you guessed it – tell us their story. Those nights were admittedly not always the most exciting moments, but I can say now that they were some of the most formative for me. It opened my eyes to the stories happening all around me! Without even knowing it, the vulnerability our guests showed us began to shape the way I made sense of the people I already know as well as those that I met during placement or while using public transit!
Realizing the importance of storytelling helps transform cold, turned up collars in the cold, into intriguing and unread chapters of beautiful novels surrounding us. We are richer for taking the time to read them.
As time continues to put distance between where I found myself last year and where I am standing today, my prayer and aim is that storytelling would become a tool in my hand that would make others seen, heard, and that together we may lift our hands in communal worship as we live in the six-act Story of the whole world and faithfully follow the most important of all – the Story of Christ.
After a semester spent at Redeemer University this past fall, I now plan to attend Algonquin College in Ottawa studying film, television, and storytelling in a condensed one-year program.
My story, just like everyone’s, contains a plot line full of twists and turns – not always beautiful. But may our hands and feet only seek to serve. Act Five was such a critical year in realizing that I have stories to tell! It was time to become passionate about that fact!
In closing, I stand by what I wrote in a blog post a couple months ago that said:
“I believe with my whole heart that Act Five is for the writer, the creator, the thinker, the do-er, and the dreamer. It’s for the realist, the foodie, the willing, the brave, the broken – the ones in the midst of healing.”
I’d like to add: it is also for the storyteller, the ones who have not yet taken time to reflect on their own story, and for those who find a passion in bringing other stories to the spotlight.