I was, almost Jesus.
Having just moved to New York City to pursue the dream of becoming an actor I was praying for hours on end with the hopes of making it big and fulfilling my thus far five year pursuit. I figure I could fast track stardom if I simply appealed to the big guy in the sky. On my knees with hands folded in prayer facing the cross hanging on the wall just above my bed, I was on my 75th “Our Father,” when suddenly the room lit up and I was aglow in the light of the Lord. I knew right then and there this was going to be the role of a lifetime.
I awoke from the dream and hurriedly prepared myself for the day. I had an audition at an off-off Broadway theater company for the role of Jesus. I guess my psyche was preparing me.
Back in the day, off-off Broadway theater companies were located a few blocks off-off Times Square. Getting there was an interesting journey as you had to pass through a pretty seedy area and home to ladies of the night, peep shows, drug dealers and grifters. Cliche as this may read it was true. With an edgy feeling of danger lurking in the air and a sublime mixture of urine and garbage this was the New York I dreamt of experiencing.
Arriving at the entrance of the building with plenty of time to spare, I huffed it up the six flights of stairs to where this 30-seat black box theater was located. This being my first foray into New York theater, I was given a recommendation to audition from my former Minneapolis acting teacher who used to be part of this theater company. I had no idea what to expect other than I’d be auditioning for the role of Jesus.
Jesus, really Jesus? How do you prepare for that? I could nail my hands and feet on a cross for an hour or two. No, that would hurt. Maybe tie my hands and feet, that would leave a less long lasting affect. But where could I get the wood? And being new to New York I don’t know if there would be anyone willing to lend a hand, unless I paid the three homeless guys that live in my neighborhood–they’d do anything for money.
There must be an easier way. I could pick up a used Bible at the “Strand,” a landmark bookstore in my neighborhood. With Bible in hand, I could stand on the one remaining open corner reading aloud. Problem is, I would be competing with the other three corners and those who are either really living the life of Jesus or simply stopped taking their meds. Bellevue bound or not I would have my proselytizing cut out for me, competing against those Jesus’ with just the right hairstyle, preacher voice and natural ability to pause for dramatic affect. I don’t have the hairstyle, faith or commitment. Besides, it seemed like a lot of work.
The cross is looking like a good idea. I could find wood and build a life size cross. And wearing nothing but a loin cloth carry it through the streets of New York. I am sure within a few blocks I would capture the attention of a few committed Catholics, then I too would be committed.
I did nothing in the end, except while walking the remaining flight of stairs to the theater made a foxhole prayer hoping the good Lord would hear me, and his presence would allow me to become Jesus for the duration of the two-minute audition. “Please let me be Jesus for two minutes dear Lord. Hear my prayer! Amen.”
Arriving out of breath from those six flights, the young, slightly pudgy woman with puke green hair pulled back in a ponytail so tight it made her look she had work done, gave me attitude. Looking me up and down she already passed judgment. “Judge not lest ye be judged,” I spontaneously whispered under my breath. Did the LORD hear my prayer? “I’m here to audition for the role of Jesus,” I said in a holier than thou voice. Pointing to two black faux leather chairs that looked like they were stolen from a 50s diner, “Sit over there and wait,” now vocalizing her attitude. I sat down but remembered that usually you get sides, that is one or two pages from the play with dialogue used to prepare and speak during the audition. I stood up and asked, “Are there any sides?” She replied, “Nothing for this audition.” “That’s odd, “I thought to myself.
Besides the angst-ridden receptionist I was the only one in the room …
NOTE to reader: This is part 1 of a 2 part Psalm series. The reason it is two parts is because I don’t want to take up too much of your time and a long blog post does just that. Come on back in a day or two for Psalm 2 and find out more about Jesus.