A life is measured by how it is lived for the sake of heaven.

— Rebbe in My Name Is Asher Lev

It is a small theatre, kind of hidden down in a basement. I think it made all the more fitting the rendition of the masterful play My Name Is Asher Lev. I could go on and on about the brilliant direction by none other than Texas Christian University’s Harry Parker, or the marvelously talented cast, or the incredible scenery.

No. It won’t do any of them justice for what happened to me as I experienced this show. Notice I didn’t use the word “saw.” No. It isn’t right or true. This is a play that you experience into the depths of your soul. A play that doesn’t resolve for you the haunting questions of family, work and calling. You experience every moment. You relish it. You laugh. You hurt. You are astounded.

So imagine for a moment the astonishing breath I took when I heard the character playing the Rebbe utter: “a life is measured by how it is lived for the sake of heaven” as he is trying to give spiritual advice to Asher (whose name means “happy” in Hebrew.) The meeting touches on what it is like to study and live as an artist within a community that finds it… well, silly and meaningless.

And that simple phrase won’t leave me. Such is the pain a ministerial artist has. The tension of sacred and profane.

How are we living for the sake of heaven? Are we living out the call to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly as another prophet named Micah, not Chiam Potok/Aaron Posner, stated? Are we living as the created of the Creator, or just wandering as bits of cosmic fluff on this planet wasting space and energy? I truly wonder if we wouldn’t find a bit more of our existential crisis taken care of if we would just live for the sake of the kingdom here on earth.

If you have the opportunity to read the novel… Do. If you have the joy of a theatre company performing this piece… Must do.

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